SANTA FE –-(Ammoland.com)- The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish worked lakes and streams in an effort to help the public stay safe over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Department officers made over 4,100 contacts with the public statewide and issued over 250 citations, including 161 for fishing without a license and another 121 for off-highway vehicle violations.
Department inspectors, partners and contractors also checked about 2,500 watercraft for aquatic invasive species and decontaminated 21 vessels at numerous lakes around the state over the holiday.
“We appreciate the boating public’s patience and cooperation in this continuing effort to keep our state’s waters free of aquatic invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels,” said James Dominiguez, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the department.
Inspectors at Navajo, Ute, Bluewater, Elephant Butte, Farmington and Conchas lakes conducted watercraft inspections and found 21 from out of state and that had not been drained and dried as required in New Mexico. Those watercraft were decontaminated on site and allowed to launch.
Largely due to mandatory inspection stations, New Mexico remains free of zebra or quagga mussel infestation but is surrounded by states where the invasive species have taken root. The mussels can attach to boats and grow quickly, leading to encrusted equipment and clogged water pipes. Their spread also poses a risk to our native aquatic wildlife, hydroelectric power systems and surface water delivery lines used for municipalities and agriculture. Mandatory boat inspections are one way the state is working to educate the public and keep the invasive mussels out.
All boats are required to stop for inspection when check stations are in operation. All out-of-state boats or any boats re-entering the state must obtain an inspection prior to being launched or exposed to any water body in the state. The department, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, New Mexico State Parks and the city of Farmington are manning inspection stations at most lakes this summer, including Navajo Lake, Elephant Butte, Ute, Bluewater, Conchas and Farmington.
Boaters are required to have their boats’ drain plugs pulled while trailered to allow water to drain. Keeping boats and related equipment clean, drained and dry is a primary means of combatting the spread of invasive mussels.
For more information on boat inspection locations and how you can help keep the state free of aquatic invasive species, please visit http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/fishing/fishing-regulations/aquatic-invasive-species/.