Over the long Memorial Day weekend, two mussel encrusted boats were intercepted at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks watercraft inspection stations.
The first boat was intercepted when it stopped on May 26 at the watercraft inspection station in Wibaux. The boat arrived from the Great Lakes region and was encrusted with adult mussels destined for West Yellowstone. The inspection station crew hot washed the boat on-site and FWP enforcement staff secured the vessel until a complete decontamination could be completed.
Invasive species staff conducted a complete decontamination of the vessel in Bozeman on June 2. The second boat failed to stop at the Hardin watercraft inspection station on May 27. Inspection station staff called 1-800 TIP MONT and Montana Highway Patrol was alerted. The boat was pulled over and the officer made them return to the inspection station. The vessel was commercially hauled and headed for British Columbia. The boat was found to be encrusted with adult mussels and was hot water washed on-site. Canadian authorities were alerted and followed up with the boat at the border.
“The interception of these boats over the weekend reinforces the importance of our efforts around Montana,” said FWP’s aquatic invasive species bureau chief Tom Woolf. “We see a lot of out of state watercraft coming from areas of the country where mussels and other AIS are present. Our inspection stations are the first line of defense to protect Montana’s waters.”
Watercraft owners must remember that all boats coming into the state must be inspected prior to launching. Additionally, all watercraft traveling across the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin must be inspected prior to launching. If a boater encounters an open watercraft inspection station, they are required to stop. This includes rafts, canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.
Heightened efforts at protecting Montana’s waters are in response the discovery last fall of aquatic invasive mussel larvae in water samples from Tiber Reservoir. A sample from Canyon Ferry Reservoir also was found to be suspect for the mussel larvae.
Typically, stops at inspection stations are very brief and include a short series of questions about where the watercraft has been and quick inspection. Watercraft owners can make this process quick and easy if they consistently practice Clean, Drain and Dry.
- Clean all debris from the watercraft and trailer.
- Pull drain plugs and make sure all compartments, bilges and ballasts are drained.
- Dry out your watercraft, including live wells, storage areas and compartments.
Following these simple instructions will not only help to protect Montana’s waters, but also ensure the inspection process quick and easy.
(Report via FWP; feature photo via 100thmeridian.com)