Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials said today that two boats carrying signs of quagga mussels have been identified at aquatic invasive species inspection stations in Montana so far this season.
Near Dillon the AIS inspection station found dead quagga mussels in late May on a boat that had been off the water for an extended period. The boat had California plates, but came from Lake Mead, on the Arizona and Nevada border, a water infected with quagga mussels.
This vessel was examined in detail at the Bozeman FWP office and was not launched in Montana. No mussels were detected inside the motor, exhaust or water intake.
A second boat with dead mussels attached was stopped in early June in Hardin, one of the more than a dozen mandatory inspection stations operated by FWP.
"Though we have not yet found live mussels this affirms recently trained inspectors are alert to the signs of AIS contamination on vessels they are inspecting," said Eileen Ryce, FWP AIS program supervisor.
AIS inspection stations are located at key sites across the state to help prevent the spread of species including quagga and zebra mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, and Eurasian watermilfoil—and to inform boaters. Inspection station personnel were trained this spring.
The mussels and mud snails inspectors search for are tiny and easy to miss. The only clue may be a gritty feeling as they run their hands along the finish of the boat. In rare cases when a boat is infested or suspected of being infested, it is pulled aside for a detailed inspection and cleaning.
FWP is also inspecting boats and equipment used on Mackinaw Bay near Whitefish Lake in the clean up underway to remove diesel-contaminated sediment from a 1989 freight train derailment. More than 20 boats and pieces of equipment have been inspected, some contaminated with dead AIS. These vessels were also decontaminated and re-inspected before launch.
Ryce stressed that it is mandatory that boaters stop at all state watercraft inspection stations. Boats that are clean, drained, and dry will help keep the inspection process quick and painless. Drive-bys could be stopped, asked to turn around and go through the station, and could be issued a citation, Ryce said.
AIS inspection stations and roving crews operate in the following locations:
For more on aquatic invasive species, go to FWP's invasive species website at fwp.mt.gov and click on Aquatic Invasive Species on the Fishing page.