Over the next several years, thousands of recreationists and recreational boaters are expected to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, most of which was on major waterways. One unintended, but potentially harmful, side effect of the Bicentennial could be the introduction of aquatic nuisance species, both plants and animals, into the lakes and rivers of the Western United States.
Many species travel to new waterways on boats and trailers. Some species can live outside of water for 10 days. Once introduced, aquatic nuisance species may cost taxpayers and businesses millions of dollars to control.
The Zebra Mussel can clog power plant, irrigation, and public water supply intakes and pipes. The mussels can damage boat engines and blanket shorelines with their foul smelling sharp shells. They consume food meant for native species and smother native mussels.
Whirling Disease caused a 90% decline in the rainbow trout population of the Madison River from 1990 to 1995.
New Zealand Mudsnails
Since their detection in 1994, New Zealand Mudsnails spread to occupy the entire mainstem Madison River. They are unique because their populations are primarily composed of females that reproduce by cloning themselves. It takes only one immature New Zealand Mudsnail to start a new population which may impact native species and fisheries.
The best line of defense against introductions and spread of aquatic nuisance species is PREVENTION. Please help maintain a healthy environment for Montana's aquatic species and for your recreational activities. Before leaving a water site: thoroughly inspect and clean your boat and gear, drain wells and bilges, and dispose of harvested animal remains at the site or in the trash. In addition, make sure that you thoroughly dry your boat and equipment before using it in another body of water.