By Montana Grant

Posted: February 27, 2022

Anglers, hunters, boaters, and sportsmen need to be on the alert to protect our watersheds from illegal immigrants also known as AIS!

Nature knows best. In natural cases, fish and wildlife have evolved in a location that best fits their survival needs. Along with food, habitat, and competition, Nature also has natural predators in place so that all species will survive in an ecologically balanced ecosystem.

When a fish like the Snakehead is released into a North American watershed, such as in Maryland, these predators become the fox in the henhouse. If nothing is preventing them from exploiting the new area, they will devour or destroy all that they can. Frogs, waterfowl, smaller fish, mammals, and everything else is on their menu. Snakeheads were transported by man to natural watersheds. These apex fish predators have no natural enemies. They are from Indonesia and were brought here for food or aquariums. When the aquaculture was flooded, or simply abandoned, these invasive critters stayed. To make matters worse, these fish can walk on land and stay out of water for 3 days! Local anglers also use illegal Bucket Biology to transport these alien species to other watersheds closer to where they fish. In Maryland many of the captured snakeheads were traced to Delaware and New Jersey. Currently these critters are managed by a required catch and kill rule. Sadly, many anglers still practice Catch and Release with these notorious invasives.

Montana is always at risk for new invasives. Zebra Mussels, rock snot, and aquatics that could navigate the Missouri River are all AIS. Some feel that any species, not Native to Montana should be managed as AIS. This would mean that rainbow, brook, and brown trout, walleyes, pike, bass, and many other species could be addressed. 


Transport AIS into or within Montana.

Transport live fish and bait fish in Montana.

Transport surface water

Move live fish, aquatic plants, or invertebrates from one waterbody to another, without FWP authorization.

Release unwanted bait fish into the water. 

Anglers pay fees to support the management, protection, enforcement, and inspections required to enforce the rules. Inspection stations look for evidence of AIS. Non-resident boats require additional inspections and fees.

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Montana Grant