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Aquatic Nuisance Species

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Types of Aquatic Nuisance Species


ALEWIFE: Small invasive baitfish recently established in Lake St. Catherine and Lake Champlain. May displace smelt and other native forage fish and depress reproductive capacity of trout and salmon. Alewives may not be used as bait in Vermont.

DIDYMO: An invasive freshwater microscopic algae documented in several rivers in the Lake Champlain basin, Connecticut River watershed and the Batten Kill. Forms extensive ‘blooms’ on the bottoms of rocky river beds. Smothers aquatic insect habitats, native algae, and other organisms. Spread by felt-soled waders and other clothing and equipment that has not been properly cleaned before moving between waters.

EURASIAN WATERMILFOIL: Prolific invasive aquatic plant found in Lake Champlain and many inland lakes in Vermont. Interferes with boating, fishing and swimming, and displaces native plants. Easily spread when plant fragments are caught and moved on boat trailers, propellers, anchors and other equipment, or in live wells.

MUTE SWAN: Very large white bird with orange bill, observed annually in Vermont since 1993. Highly aggressive during the nesting season and may drive away or kill native waterfowl. May also attack humans and negatively impact aquatic habitats.

SEA LAMPREY: Parasitic aquatic nuisance fish found in Lake Champlain and a number of its tributaries. Preys on salmon, trout, and other fish, causing substantial economic impact to the lake fisheries. Anadromous sea lampreys in the Connecticut River watershed are not a “nuisance species.”

SPINY WATER FLEA: Tiny invasive crustacean not yet found in Vermont but discovered in nearby Great Sacandaga Lake, NY, in 2008. Clogs fishing rod guides, fouls fishing lines, alters native species populations and may harm fisheries. Spread by “hitchhiking” on fishing gear that isn’t cleaned, or in bilge water, bait buckets, or livewells that aren’t drained before moving to a different waterbody.

VARIABLE-LEAVED WATERMILFOIL: Invasive aquatic plant recently discovered in Halls Lake, Newbury, VT and Missisquoi Bay, Lake Champlain. Easily spread by fragments with impacts similar to the closely related Eurasian watermilfoil, but be even more aggressive and difficult to control.

WATER CHESTNUT: Prolific invasive annual plant found in southern Lake Champlain and a few inland lakes. Interferes with boating, hunting and fishing, and displaces native plants. Spreads by seeds or parts of plants caught on boats and equipment.

ZEBRA MUSSEL: Tiny D-shaped invasive mollusks, well established in Lake Champlain and Lake Bomoseen. Clog water intake pipes, damage boat engines, obscure historic shipwrecks, and alter native species populations. Adult zebra mussels can attach and be moved on boat hulls, engines and other equipment. Microscopic larva can get trapped and moved in water of boat engines, bilges, bait buckets, and live wells.


Transporting any aquatic plant or aquatic plant part, zebra mussel or quagga mussel on the outside of a vehicle, boat, personal watercraft, trailer, or other equipment is illegal. Violators are subject to a penalty of up to $1000.00.

The use of felt-soled boots or waders in Vermont waters is prohibited. Violators are subject to a penalty of up to $1000.00. Visit for more information.

Do your part to stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species


Anglers’, Hunters’ and Trappers’ Checklist

Before leaving a lake or stream:

  • Clean off any mud, plants (even small fragments), and animals from boats, trailers and equipment. Put in trash.
  • Drain water from your bait bucket, livewell, bilge, boat, boat trailer, boating equipment and fishing equipment immediately after leaving the water.
  • Dry anything that comes into contact with water.
  • Never release live bait or move live fish or fish eggs from one water to another.
  • Never leave waters with any live fish.
  • Buy your minnows from licensed bait dealers.
  • Remove organisms you can’t see on your boat, waders and gear by:
  • Scrubbing with hot, soapy water and rinsing.
  • Spraying with high-pressure water.
  • Drying in the sun for 5 days.
  • Soaking clothes and other “soft” items in hot, soapy water for at least 30 minutes and scrubbing thoroughly before using in another water body.
  • Switching to rubber or studded-soled wading boots. Use of felt-soled boots and waders in waters of Vermont is illegal.

Report sightings of suspected aquatic nuisance species to Fish & Wildlife, 802-241-3700, or the Department of Environmental Conservation, 802-241-3777.


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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