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Aquatic Invasive Plants & Animals

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Michigan’s waters are threatened by numerous nonnative aquatic invasive plants and animals. Species such as the zebra mussel, round goby, sea lamprey, Eurasian ruffe, Eurasian watermilfoil, rusty crayfish, and spiny water flea are causing significant damage to Michigan’s natural resources. A number of species also are knocking at the door, including several species of Asian carp coming up the Chicago diversion that could potentially enter Lake Michigan and snakehead fish that are found in other Midwest states. Aquatic invasive species are harmful to recreational fishing and do extensive economic and natural resource damage. To help reduce the spread of invasive species, anglers are reminded to properly dispose of all bait containers including worms and soil, crayfish and minnows in a trash receptacle.

The following illustrations show a few of the most serious aquatic nuisance species in Michigan:


Asian Carp Identification

Adult bighead and silver carp are large fish that can be easily identified by the position of their eyes. Both species have eyes that are below a line from the fork of the tail to the mouth. Juvenile Asian carp can be easily confused with minnows and you may find one in your bait bucket.

If you believe you have seen or caught an Asian carp, DO NOT RELEASE IT. Please visit to fill out an online Asian carp reporting form, or call us at 517-373-1280.


Help Stop the Spread!

Anglers and boaters can help prevent the spread of fish diseases and other aquatic invasive species by taking the following steps:

  • Clean boats, trailers, and other equipment thoroughly between fishing trips to keep from transporting undesirable fish pathogens and organisms, from one water body to another with special care to clean fishing equipment when you are done fishing known locations of the fish diseases. A light bleach solution is an excellent disinfectant for cleaning your equipment.
  • After cleaning allow boats, trailers, and other equipment to fully dry for 4 to 6 hours in the sun.
  • Do not move fish or fish parts from one body of water to another.
  • Do not release live bait into any water body.
  • Handle fish as gently as possible if you intend to release them and release them as quickly as possible.
  • Refrain from hauling the fish for long periods in live wells if you intend to release them.
  • Report unusual numbers of dead or dying fish to the local DNR Fisheries Division office.  See Customer Service Centers for information.
  • Educate other anglers about the measure they can take to prevent the spread of fish diseases and other aquatic nuisance species.

Natural resource managers are concerned about introduction of new species and have set up an Angler’s Monitoring Network to report any discoveries. Anglers should save and report unidentified fish to the nearest DNR Customer Service Centers.

If you have any questions, contact an Customer Service Center or visit

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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