BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is urging boaters, property owners, and anyone who spends time around the water to be aware of aquatic nuisance species (ANS).

Aquatic nuisance species are organisms that produce disastrous impacts on aquatic ecosystems or anything dependent on them — like boating, fishing, and other aquatic activities. Zebra Mussels, in particular, are a notable ANS in North Dakota, which are notable for multiplying rapidly and causing millions of dollars in damage to boats and water filtration pipes. It only makes matters worse when equipment like boat docks and lifts are prime areas for ANS to multiply. As such, Game and Fish is reminding the public that they search their own property for any sign of these creatures.

“Reports from the public have led to the discovery of numerous ANS populations over the past several years,” said ANS coordinator Ben Holden in a press release.

Holen recommends doing a thorough search of all equipment whenever it’s taken out into the water during the Fall season.

“Pay special attention to wheel wells, right angles on frames, and areas otherwise protected from sunlight,” Holden added. “Feel for attached organisms that have small hair-like structures holding them in place. Small mussels can feel like rough sandpaper and adults can be as large as 2 inches long.”

If you believe you have found a zebra mussel or other ANS, Game and Fish advises all citizens to take photos, write down relevant information (including the number of animals and location), and report it online at the Game and Fish website.