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Noem Establishes Checkpoints to Prevent Spread of Zebra Mussels

In Governor Kristi Noem’s world, Indian tribes can’t stop motorists on their sovereign territory to make sure they aren’t bringing coronavirus into their communities, but game wardens can set up roadblocks anywhere in South Dakota to stop boaters from spreading zebra mussels, which can mess up boats, beaches, and water pipes but don’t directly sicken or kill any humans.

The Indians stopping cars on the highways are just asking questions and turning back non-residents to alternative routes. Game Fish & Parks will be searching your boat without a warrant:

All boats traveling through an AIS [aquatic invasive species] checkpoint are required to stop. Once stopped, a department representative will conduct a risk assessment. If the vessel meets multiple risk factors, a more thorough risk assessment will be completed.

Inspections may include:

  • Inspecting the exterior of a watercraft and trailer for the presence of organisms or organic material that may harbor aquatic invasive species.
  • Examining any interior portion of a watercraft that may carry or transport water or organic material, including engines, motors, livewells, ballast tanks, and bilge areas.

If any organisms or organic material that may harbor aquatic invasive species are found or suspected to be present as a result of the inspection, the department may decontaminate the watercraft or order its decontamination [South Dakota Game Fish & Parks, “Laws and Regulations,” “, retrieved 2020.06.15].

Bob Mercer reports GF&P will be stopping innocent boat-toters in ten places: four near Rapid City-area docks, six along the Missouri River “and some eastern counties at highway ‘pinch-points’ where many boaters will be driving by.”

Aquatic invasive species aren’t a bad enough problem for Governor Noem to use the good mic in her private video studio

…but they are bad enough for her office to propose a whole new law, House Bill 1033, authorizing the statewide checkpoints during the 2020 Session. Governor Noem signed this emergency bill without any squawkings on Fox News or The Federalist about Freedom™ or Personal Responsibility™.

Representative Spencer Gosch (R-23/Glenham), who has expressed umbrage about the tribal coronavirus checkpoints, was one of eight legislators to vote against zebra mussel checkpoints. Kudos, Representative Gosch, for consistency!


  1. Cully Williams 2020-06-15

    41-13A-6 doesn’t allow searching without a warrant, nor does it give an implied consent. Just because the law doesn’t specifically state that they need a warrant doesn’t mean they’re free to skip it.

    The whole process is still more obstructive and invasive than tribal checkpoints though.

  2. Donald Pay 2020-06-15

    This has been done in Wisconsin for years by both tribal and state entities to protect state/tribal waters, wildlife and fisheries. COVID is just a smaller invasive “species.” Doesn’t she realize her own policies invalidate all her racist hysterics?

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-06-15

    What happens if, as GF&P rummage about “any interior portion of a watercraft that may carry or transport water or organic material,” they find marijuana, or meth, or walleyes over the limit. Is that evidence from this warrantless search inadmissible?

  4. Francis Schaffer 2020-06-15

    I thought I read the tribal check points require a temperature check. Is that a search? Okay just spit balling; why doesn’t the Game, Fish and Parks either create or encourage a bait shop to install a decontamination station, that would be a business opportunity for someone. Also what happens if a boat has only every been in South Dakota waters and has zebra mussels? Would that be entrapment?

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-06-15

    Tempterature check—yes, that’s a search. But I didn’t see any mention of taking drivers’ temperatures in the West River Eagle report.

    Francis gets me thinking we should tackle zebra mussels the way we tackle nest predators: with a bounty! Promise those decon stations that we’ll pay them $50 (or just forgive a commensurate amount of sales tax) for every bucket of invasive species they can turn over to GF&P!

  6. Debbo 2020-06-15

    They do that in Minnesota.

    Does anyone think Kruel Kristi understands the irony of taking these steps against this obnoxious, but nonlethal critter, while taking a pass at a deadly virus?

  7. Clyde 2020-06-16

    Zebra mussels are just another product of the “great and glorious FREE trade”. goes along with every other noxious species we have in this country. As a farmer I can’t think of one native specie that is a problem. Every one that is has been transported here by man from countries that have been fighting them since the dawn of the human race.

  8. mike from iowa 2020-06-16

    How does one tell where a zebra mussel’s tail is located?

  9. Pat Meyer 2020-06-21

    If you are feeling “put upon” by the Zebra Mussel inspections… educate yourselves about the damage that they can do to not only the fishing quality of our beautiful river/lakes and the further secondary damage to utilities (water pipes in towns and cities using water from the sources contiguous to the rivers/lakes). Go online, read about Zebra and Quagga Mussel issues in the eastern part out the country, the Colorado River lake system… the fishing in Lake Meade near Las Vegas is non-existant. Zebra Mussels are a horrid problem that all of South Dakota and America must be fighting!!

  10. mike from iowa 2020-06-22

    Why am I not giving a damn about zebra mussels in a red run state that has little concern for massive manure spills and a deadly pandemic that has killed at least 122k people (in 4 months) in America alone?

    At the very least, South Dakota’s embarrassingly red pols should mandate social distancing for mussels, but since they won’t do it for humans, I doubt they are that concerned for the lives of mussels.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-06-23

    I don’t want zebra mussels on my kayak or municipal water intake pipes. But I remain curious why in this instance Governor Noem doesn’t trust her citizens to use their Freedom™ responsibly and do the right thing without big government mandates.

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