Prevent invasions, clean off your boat

On occasion, people complain about some of the regulations that have been enacted by state legislators and enforced by various fish and game agencies around the nation.

Some states have truly bizarre regulations like being unable to use bait to hunt bear and you can’t go after a cougar with a pack of hounds.

As a result, cougar populations have exploded in some states and people riding bicycles in the back country have been mistaken for deer and attacked by the big cats.

In other parts of the country, the opposite is true. To me, it takes little skill to sit up in a tree blind with a high-powered rifle and blast a deer after he has been frequenting the bait station you’ve had set up for the past month or so.

“Check out the rack on that one, Bubba!”

That’s sorta like going to a trout pond and filling your stringer with stocked fish and then telling everybody what a great angler you are.

Like most agencies, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a few regulations in its enforcement code that tend to get people riled up but for the most part, make a lot of sense.

The latest law, one that could result in a $378 fine should you get “pinched” for a violation, involves boaters being required to remove all aquatic plants from their boats and trailers before leaving the launch ramp.

What may appear to be something trivial, in reality, makes good sense.

If you remove plants from your boat before you leave the ramp, there no chance of introducing a potentially invasive species of aquatic life into another body of water.

I’m sure you’ve seen boats being pulled down the highway that resemble Christmas trees in reverse — silver boats decorated with green tinsel. And you can bet your last money the guy behind the wheel talking on the cell phone isn’t singing “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” either.

Waters around Whidbey Island have enough trouble being infested with invasive slimy stuff that is dragged home on the hulls of ocean-going vessels. Keeping the junk from being spread from lake-to-lake is something boaters can take into their own hands to prevent.

Back home in Michigan when I was a lad, the Department of Fish and Wildlife got hit with an invasive double whammy that caused no end of problems to the sport fishing community.

I’m not talking about all the pollution that got pumped into the Great Lakes over the years which, at one time, caused that sewer named Lake Erie to catch fire because of all the hydrocarbons and gunk in the water.

The fire was a real bear to extinguish, but that is another story.

The sea lampreys were the first to arrive via the St. Lawrence River and the Welland Canal and following the eels were the alewives.

Lampreys darn near wrecked the Great Lakes fishing industry, decimating the food-fish populations, and then came the alewives to mop up all the plankton and other small aquatic organisms that make up the diet of game fish.

In the late 1950s, they began using chemicals to kill sea lampreys in their spawning streams and eventually brought the population under control.

Fish and wildlife finally got the alewife problem taken care of by the introduction of Northwest salmon to the Great Lakes. That was one positive step for sure!

I don’t know what the answer would be to controlling invasive plants such as hydrilla and Brazilian elodea in Whidbey Island waters, other than maybe Amur carp.

That could become a problem in itself because after munching all the invasive plants, carp can be true gluttons for the chow eaten by sport fish.

Why don’t we just clean off our boats instead?

Sluice the hull and your trailer down with a bucket of water and then wipe everything with an old towel.

Sure would cause a heck of a lot fewer problems and maybe save some money as well.

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