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ANS: One year later

In April 2008 the North Dakota Game and Fish Department introduced regulations in an attempt to cut down on unwanted aquatic species.

Looking back on the last year, Greg Power, chief of the NDGF fisheries division, said things look good.

"So far, so good -- in the big scheme of things," Power said. "I think we've got the right slate of regulations in place that are common sense, but also give us a certain level of protection."

The Aquatic Nuisance Species, or ANS, regulations seek to control the introduction of spread of nonnative or exotic plant and animal species as well as diseases to the state's fisheries.

Typically ANS have a strong likelihood of becoming well-established if introduced. An example is the common carp, which can be found in most of the state's major fisheries and can cause damage to aquatic ecosystem.

And while one year is too early to tell if the regulations are working, no reports of new species and no reported expansion of existing species is a good sign, Power said.

"That's kind of the moniker of ANS, is no news is good news," Power said.

There are no major changes to the regulations this year, Power said, but where warnings were written last year, the first year of the regulations, there could be actual tickets written this summer.

The regulations are:

- Inspect and remove all aquatic vegetation from boats, personal watercraft, trailers, and associated equipment such as fishing poles and lures before leaving a body of water.

- Remove all aquatic vegetation from bait containers when leaving the water.

- Drain all water from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells and motors, at the ramp site before leaving a water body. The only exception is livewells used to transport game fish or baitfish, and potable water and sewage water which must be disposed of properly.

- Not transport live aquatic bait or aquatic vegetation into North Dakota. All water must be drained from watercraft upon entering the state.

- Not dump bait into any North Dakota water.

- Not introduce any fish into North Dakota water.

- Not transport nongame fish (other than legal live baitfish) in water away from the water body in which they were taken.

Robert Timian, chief of enforcement for the NDGF, said game wardens and fisheries personnel will conduct check stations throughout the summer in an effort to ensure compliance.

"It has been more than a year since prevention guidelines became law, so water recreationists shouldn't be surprised by this," Timian said. "Just be prepared and abide by the rules."

Power said that for the most part people have complied but there is still a need for further education.

"People don't have a problem with it at all," Power said. "It hasn't been contentious whatsoever because I think it's pretty common sense, but at the same time I'm not sure everybody understands yet the steps they need to take."

Power said education efforts will continue throughout the rest of the year to make sure everyone knows what the rules are and what they can do to follow them.

"Our whole intent here is to educate the population so that they are aware of the impacts of ANS and preventative measures so they don't come into our state," Power said. "Or for the ones that we do have in the state that they don't spread further."