Educators remind boaters each summer about not transferring aquatic invasive species from one water body to another.
An Oneida County AIS coordinator says the same bit of wisdom also applies on frozen water. Stephanie Boismenue says invasives can spread as quickly in the winter as they do in the summer.
She says there are some things to remember...
"....number one, we need to purchase bait from a (licensed) Wisconsin bait dealer. The minnows can be transported in the amount of water needed to keep them alive up to two gallons. I'm talking about minnows because one of the things I want to bring to people's attention is the disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia, which is a virus that can be spread in the winter as much as it can in the summertime...."
VHS, as the disease is known, is deadly says Boismenue .
"....our fish here have never been exposed to this particular virus so their immune systems have no defense mechanisms and they're highly susceptible to (VHS). If a fish has the VHS virus am I able to eat it? The answer is yes. You can handle the fish and eat it as long as it is cooked very thoroughly...."
She says fish absorb the virus when it's suspended in the water. It gets in the water from other infected fish and can last up to 14 days.
Boismenue says get live bait from a licensed bait dealer who must follow strict rules. She says if you have left over minnows you can use the minnows on the same water body as long as no water, fish or organisms were added to that minnow container. She it's illegal to dump unused minnows on the ice. She says put them in the trash.