If you’ve grown tired of cleaning your aquarium and feeding the fish, dumping the whole works in a lake or river could get you in trouble. Kim Bogenschutz of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says an expanded law covering what are called “aquatic invasive species” recently went into effect. It’s now illegal to transport, possess, purchase, or sell a whole list of species that have been defined as aquatic invasive species. That includes the plant Eurasian watermilfoil, snakehead fish, zebra mussels and other things. She says you may think you’re helping that former pet by turning it free, but she says you could end up doing harm to many more animals. She says when you put non-native animals into lakes and rivers, sometimes they die, but she says often they live and don’t have natural enemies that kill them. She says they can grow very big, such as the Asian carp, and upset the natural balance and cause all sorts of economic problems. Bogenschutz says the expanded law tries to head off problems that have cropped up in other states from pets gones wild. The snakehead fish is one example. She says they’re aquarium species that people release because they grow really big and they get tired of taking care of them. She says the snakehead hasn’t been a problem in Iowa yet. She says some aquatic plants can also cause problems. Bogenschutz says the Eurasian water milfoil and zebra mussels have caused some problems in Iowa, and she encourages people who use lakes and rivers to take precautions to keep them and other species from spreading.She says you should dump your bait in the trash and dump all the water from your boat so you don’t transport anything from one water body to another. The new law took effect January 12th. For more information, check the Iowa D-N-R’s website.
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