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DNR dogs and cops check Minnesota boats and props for zebra mussels

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made good on its promise for stepped-up inspections for boaters this Memorial Day weekend, even employing zebra mussel-sniffing dogs to track down the invasive species.

Don't say you weren't warned, from the scope of the enforcement to the fines and tickets -- and, even, yes, the pooches.

Going back to the fishing opener, the DNR said it would get tough on the penny-sized creatures, which are aquatic hitchhikers that attach themselves to the bottoms and outboards of boats.

Friday the Star Tribune reported that DNR and local officials would boost the number of inspectors and money spent to try to slow the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species. "From Lake Minnetonka, one of the state’s busiest lakes, to Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes, researchers are donning scuba gear and boarding kayaks to track down the earliest signs of invasive species," the paper reported.

WCCO-TV reports that the inspections did increase this weekend, and noted that some inspections did indeed go to the dogs.

Of course, this is just the unofficial kickoff for boating season around the state, and one DNR official tells channel 4 that decontamination — a cleaning process -- is mandatory this year for boats that have been on the water for longer than 24 hours.“We’re pretty strict," she says. "We just want to look for anything. If we see anything we do a decon on the boat."

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