How much is too much?
How far are we willing to go in the fight against invasive
species such as zebra mussels?
I’ve been pondering that question a lot lately.
The DNR already has announced that, beginning with this spring’s
ice-out, simply pulling a boat is sufficient grounds to get pulled
over and checked.
And now, in its latest proposal to the Legislature, the DNR seeks
to make everyone take and pass an aquatic invasive species test
before they pull a boat.
Taken together, it all seems a little overboard. Of course, it’s
easy to criticize from the outside. The DNR really is between a
rock and a hard place when it comes to aquatic invasives such as
zebra mussels. Do too much, and people – me included, in this case
– wonder if it’s going too far. Do too little, and the agency gets
blamed for not doing enough.
Still, I have trouble wrapping my head around every person taking
and passing a test before they’re allowed to trailer their boat. I
suspect when lawmakers heard the proposal, they’ll have a similar
It’s hard for me to comprehend that people haven’t gotten the
invasives message. Perhaps the best way to make sure people take
notice is to hike the fines, and for officers to show little leeway
when it comes to dealing with people who break invasives laws.
(It’s worth noting the DNR last year tried to do that, but was
rebuffed by lawmakers.)
There will be plenty more talk about this issue as the Legislature
wears on. Earlier this week, Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria
and chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said
aquatic invasives, wolf hunting and trapping, and fishing and
hunting licenses fees would be the three dominant themes for the
rest of the session.