Hunters can help prevent spread of AIS
By angelamontana

Posted: October 22, 2019

Hunters who use boats to access waterfowl or big game hunting areas can help prevent aquatic invasive species from infesting Montana’s wetlands, rivers, and lakes.

The three steps of Clean, Drain, Dry greatly minimize the risk of spreading invasive species. Waterfowl hunters should clean gear that can unintentionally carry invasive plants or animals. Before hunting in a new area all hunters should:

  • Clean aquatic plants, animals, and mud from boat, trailer, anchor, waders, boots, decoys, decoy lines, and push poles.
  • Drain water from decoys, boats, motors, and other hunting equipment.
  • Brush hunting dogs and rinse off muddy paws.
  • Never move plants from one body of water to another. When using vegetation to construct blinds or conceal duck boats, use only what is available in the immediate hunting area.

A hunter’s watercraft must be inspected if:

  • You are coming into Montana from out of state.
  • You are traveling west over the Continental Divide into western Montana (the Columbia River Basin).
  • You are coming off Tiber or Canyon Ferry reservoirs.
  • You are launching anywhere within the Flathead Basin and your watercraft last launched on waters outside of the Flathead Basin.

FWP reminds non-residents hunters planning to bring their watercraft into Montana that they must now purchase a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass (Vessel AISPP) before launching on state waters. The Vessel AISPP was initiated by the 2019 Montana Legislature to help fund the fight against aquatic invasive species. Non-residents can purchase the Vessel AISPP at any FWP office or online at and click on the License: Buy/Apply tab. Boat owners must carry a paper or digital receipt as proof of purchase. The Vessel AISPP expires on Dec. 31 each year and is not transferable between vessels.

For more information or to find an inspection station, visit or contact the FWP fisheries office at 406-444-2440.

Boat Inspection Stations Close for Season, Inspections Still Required

Montana’s watercraft inspection stations are closing for the season, but boaters can still obtain an inspection at FWP regional and area offices.

Late-season anglers and hunters utilizing boats for waterfowl or big game hunting need to follow the principles of clean, drain, dry to help protect our waters from invasive aquatic weeds, animals and diseases:

  • Clean all mud and debris from the watercraft, trailer, anchor, waders, decoys, and fishing equipment.
  • Pull drain plugs and make sure all compartments, bilges and ballasts are drained.
  • Dry out watercraft, including dry wells, storage areas, and compartments.

To learn more, go to


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