Don't Dump That Bait!
equipment, before leaving any water body.
Even if everyone implemented all the preventative measures we’ve discussed, we probably would not be able to completely halt the spread of invasive aquatic species in our state. By working together, however, we can slow their spread and protect the recreational, aesthetic, health and economic benefits of Missouri’s lakes, ponds and streams.
Every angler, boater, pet owner and pond owner plays an important role in containing the spread of invasive species. Talk to your family, friends and coworkers about the threats invasive species pose to Missouri waters and enlist them in the fight. If everyone does a small part, we will see big benefits.
In August 2003, Conservation Department agents and biologists told the owners of Nemo Bait Inc., a bait wholesale company in Perry that thousands of crayfish they had purchased from Wisconsin and distributed to dozens of Missouri bait shops were rusty crayfish, a species that has invaded at least 18 states and caused severe damage to water bodies and their fisheries.
Concerned about potential harm to Missouri fisheries, Vince and Zelda Smith, the owners of the company, undertook the considerable task and financial burden of removing all the rusty crayfish they had distributed to bait shops. They also sacrificed their remaining rusty crayfish stock. Their timely and appropriate response likely prevented serious problems for Missouri waterways.
The Law on Liberation
Missouri prohibits importing, exporting or liberating fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals or any other form of wildlife unless specifically authorized by the Wildlife Code.
Missouri’s Wildlife Code also establishes a list of “Prohibited species” that may not be possessed in Missouri. This list includes snakehead fish, walking catfish, rusty crayfish and several species of snails. For a complete list see 3 CSR 10-4.117 of the Wildlife Code.
The best argument for not dumping the contents of your bait bucket or aquarium into waters of the state is that the species you are introducing might cause great and irreversible harm to our aquatic resources.