Aquatic Invasive Species

What are Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)?

Aquatic invasive species are non-native plants, animals, and pathogens which live primarily in the water and out-compete native species. Our environment needs native species to maintain balance in our ecosystem.  Left unchecked, AIS can infest our waters and greatly affect how we use and enjoy our lakes in Minnesota. Thankfully, due to public awareness and diligence, only a small percentage of Minnesota’s waters are infested with AIS.  This work needs to be ongoing so as to continue to prevent or slow AIS populations from establishing in our waters.

Jackson County’s Current AIS status:

In 2012, the MN DNR listed many lakes and waterways in Jackson County as infested by connected water bodies with Bighead and Silver Carp. While populations of these carp have not been established in Jackson County, our waters are connected to bodies of water where they have been confirmed.  Also, in recent years, the presence of Zebra Mussels has been confirmed in near-by recreational lakes (Big Spirit, Lake Sarah).  Without action from the public, zebra mussels can easily spread from lake to lake on boats and equipment.

DNR news releases regarding zebra mussels in Big Spirit and Lake Sarah

DNR news release regarding silver carp in Nobles County

Infested Waters List:

What These AIS Invaders Look Like:

While we are concerned with all aquatic invasive species entering into Jackson County, the following are fact sheets for species that are of the most imminent threat.

For more information about these and other AIS Invaders visit:

What we are doing:

Electric Fish Barriers

Prevention and early detection are keys for the health and well-being of our waters in Jackson County.  Several barriers along critical streams and ditches are set up and maintained to prevent Invasive Carp from establishing populations in our waters.  While no fish barriers are 100% effective in keeping AIS invaders out completely, they do keep a vast majority at bay which prevents them from establishing populations.  Fish barriers coupled with measures anglers can take by disposing properly of bait and reporting invasive species have been proven very effective for Bighead and Silver Carp in other regions of the United States.

Zebra Mussel Samplers

Jackson County also maintains several Zebra Mussel Samplers used for early detection during the summer months. These samplers are placed in high-risk areas like boat docks at public recreational lakes and are used to determine presence or absence of Zebra Mussels in that body of water. Zebra mussel samplers are surfaces on which zebra mussels will settle after they complete their larval ("veliger") stage – a stage in which the Zebra Mussels are microscopic.

Community Education

AIS funds are also used for educating area residents about Aquatic Invasive Species and steps we can take to stop their spread. We fund events held by the Prairie Ecology Bus Center in our local schools and also advertise AIS prevention on the radio, in the newspapers, and on a billboard in Jackson County.  Jackson County Land Management also maintains a Facebook page which shares a lot of information about topics important to our department like AIS education and prevention.  Since prevention is our main defense at this point, educating and reminding the public of AIS threats is one of the most important steps we are currently taking.

What you can do:

The most important person in the battle against AIS invaders is you.  For most invasive species, their spread would be minimal if they were not transported to new locations by human activity. Clean, Drain, Dry are three steps everyone should take to protect our waters.

CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from all equipment before leaving water access

  • Rinse equipment and boat hulls (with high pressure, hot water when possible)

  • Rinse interior compartments of boats with low pressure, hot water (120°F)

  • Flush motor with hot water (120°F) for 2 minutes (or according to owner’s manual)

DRAIN motor, bilge, livewell, and other water containing devices before leaving water access.

DRY everything for at least five days OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

For ANGLERS, the additional step of DISPOSE is recommended:

DISPOSE of unwanted bait, worms, and fish parts in the trash. When keeping live bait, drain bait container and replace with spring or dechlorinated tap water. Never dump live fish or other organisms from one water body into another.

Specific instructions for anglers, motor boats, non-motorized boats, scuba divers and snorkelers, seaplane operators, waterfowl hunters, swimmers, aquarium and pet owners, bait harvesters, and tourists can be found at

Additional Resources:

Prairie Ecology Bus Center: 
Sea Grant, Nab the Aquatic Invader:
U of M Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC):
Info About Invasive Earthworms:
US Fish & Wildlife Service:
More information about oceanic aquatic invasive species: Seattle Yachts Clean Your Boat