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Mussel-Sniffing Dogs Find No Mussels, Clean Drain Dry Still Important

Aquatic Invasive Species

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Mussel-sniffing dogs from Alberta combed the shores of Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs during the past week, but found no evidence of invasive mussels. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) requested the assistance of the dog team in an attempt to identify adult zebra or quagga mussels following larval mussel detections last fall.  This was part of a larger effort by FWP and other partners to survey for invasive mussels state-wide.  Intensive plankton sampling, diver survey and snorkeling surveys have found no larval or adult zebra or quagga mussels this season in Montana waters. 

Intensified survey and watercraft inspection this season was in response to larval mussel detections in Tiber Reservoir and a suspect detection in Canyon Ferry Reservoir last fall.  This year FWP inspected more than 74,000 watercraft, with 17 intercepted transporting invasive mussels. Most of the boats intercepted with mussels were coming from the Great Lakes and were headed for Montana or other western states and provinces. The six Montana-bound mussel infested boats were decontaminated. The watercraft not bound for Montana were washed at the inspection station and the destination state was notified to allow for follow up and decontamination.

“This season was incredibly successful” reported Tom Woolf, AIS Bureau Chief at FWP.   “But just because we did not see any invasive mussels in our waters this season, doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.  Small populations can be difficult to detect, so we are planning to continue intensive sampling and survey next year.”

AIS inspection stations are now closed for the season, but it is still critical that people recreating on Montana’s waterways always Clean Drain and Dry their watercraft and gear. This means making sure all boats, decoys, equipment and gear are clean when leaving the water, all watercraft are drained of any standing water and everything is dried thoroughly. Inspection before launch is still required for watercraft entering the state and crossing the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin.  Inspections are also required for vessels leaving Tiber or Canyon Ferry before they launch in other waters.  Through the fall and winter months, FWP regional offices will provide inspections for watercraft where inspection is required.

For more information, please visit musselresponse.mt.gov.