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Zebra Mussels Found at Fort Peck Boat Inspection Site

Fishing - Region 6

Friday, September 02, 2011

A Valley County aquatic invasive species inspection crew found juvenile zebra mussels on vegetation on a boat trailer at a watercraft check station on Fort Peck Reservoir on Aug. 27.

 
Zebra mussels are a small, non-native freshwater mollusk that have been invading many rivers, lakes and streams across the nation. They are prolific breeders, and each female can produce up to a million eggs a year.
 
Older mussels attach themselves to many types of hard surfaces, including water intakes and outflow pipes, piers and docks, boats and other objects. If not controlled they can multiply quickly, severely damage structures, displacing native species and upsetting entire ecosystems. Getting rid of the mussels after they become established can cost millions of dollars.
 
Eileen Ryce, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Aquatic Nuisance Program coordinator, said Valley County’s traveling inspection station was set up at the Duck Creek Fishing Access Site south of Glasgow when the vessel was examined.
 
Ryce said the boat’s owner is from Billings, but the boat and trailer were purchased in Michigan. Before the purchase was completed, the boat was taken on a test run in a Michigan lake that apparently contained some of the mussels. A couple of the invasive mollusks were found on plants that were still attached to the boat trailer after the long trip from Michigan. Ryce said the boat and trailer were pressure-washed on site by the inspection crew before they were allowed to be used in Fort Peck Reservoir.
 
Montana authorities have long asked boaters to Inspect, Clean and Dry their watercraft and trailers when they are through on the water each day. These procedures are especially important if the vessel is being moved around to different bodies of water. 
 
The statewide boat inspection program is a joint effort between FWP, the Montana Department of Agriculture and local counties.
 
“The Department of Agriculture field technicians deserve all the credit for their diligence,” said FWP Region 6 Fisheries Program Manager Steve Dalbey. “We need to redouble our efforts to prevent the introduction of these invasive species into Montana waterways.”