Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native plants, animals or pathogens that can invade new waterbodies by hitching a ride on watercraft and gear. AIS can include mussels, snails, fish, plant fragments or larva that can only be viewed under a microscope.
Both motorized and non-motorized boat owners can help stop the spread of AIS by following the principles of clean, drain, dry.
Clean all mud and debris from the watercraft, trailer, waders and fishing equipment.
Pull drain plugs and make sure all compartments, bilges and ballasts are drained.
Dry out watercraft, including live-wells, storage areas and hatches.
Additional factors boat owners should be aware of:
Used watercraft purchased from out of state can pose a greater danger of harboring AIS.
Commercially hauled watercraft pose a higher risk as larger watercraft are often moored for extended periods of time.
Boats with ballast tanks or bladders can suck plants or animals into tanks and intake grates.
Fishing boats with live-wells or bait wells must be drained to prevent moving surface water where microscopic AIS could be found.
Nonresidents bringing boats to Montana must have their boats inspected before launching. They must also purchase a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass online here.
To learn more, go to CleanDrainDryMT.com or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.