PIERRE — South Dakota will enact new rules immediately to slow down the spread of invasive species in the state, after Gov. Kristi Noem signed legislation that requires the inspection and decontamination of boats.
House Bill 1033 was signed by Noem Wednesday after it had overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives 59-7 and the Senate 33-1.
The legislation formally makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor to possess or import aquatic invasive species in the state or place a boat into South Dakota waters without first cleaning, draining and drying a boat or watercraft. It also allows the Department of Game, Fish and Parks to create inspection stations within the state and for law enforcement to be able to stop a boat to inspect it for the presence aquatic invasive species if it appears to be visible. Law enforcement officers can then issue an order or escort the boat to be inspected and decontaminated, or detain it until the decontamination is complete.
“While we enjoy these outdoor opportunities, we must work diligently to keep our waters safe from species that have the potential to harm these favorite places," Noem said. "The legislation I signed today takes steps to prevent the spread of invasive species and keep our natural treasures safe for the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.”
Each year, zebra mussels and other invasive species cause billions of dollars in damages across the United States. Zebra mussels attach to hard objects to live, reproduce rapidly, and move quickly. The mussels clog irrigation lines and damage boat motors and docks. The sharp shells from mussels can wash up on shorelines in large numbers making recreation difficult or even dangerous.
Zebra mussels have been discovered in McCook Lake and the Missouri River reservoirs of Francis Case, Lewis and Clark and Sharpe lakes.