Thursday, July 31, 2014
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks encourages Montanans and visitors to "inspect, clean, and dry," boats, trailers and fishing gear to "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!"
The hitchhikers are aquatic invasive species unintentionally brought into Montana from other places. They include clams, fish, mussels, plants, weeds, and disease-causing organisms that can overwhelm lakes and rivers, kill fish and plants, and damage ecosystems. AIS harm recreational and agricultural resources by damaging boats and gear, clogging water pipes and hydropower facilities, jamming community water sources and choking off irrigation systems.
All boats being trailered or hauled in Montana—including rafts, kayaks and canoes—must stop and be checked at watercraft inspection stations. Signs are posted or placed on several Montana highways alerting motorists trailering or carrying boats that they're required to pull over. The inspectors are looking for zebra and quagga mussels and other aquatic nuisance plants or animals that are being transported from other states and locales.
FWP's mandatory watercraft inspection stations are located at 18 strategic highway locations and boat ramps in Montana. Crews typically inspect more than 30,000 boats—about 4,000 from out-of-state—from mid-May to Labor Day.
Montana's best defense against invasive species is to inspect, clean, and dry boats, trailers, and fishing gear after each use.
- Inspect—After leaving a lake or stream, inspect the watercraft, boat, engine, trailer, anchor, waders, boots, and other fishing and boating gear for mud, water, and vegetation that could carry aquatic invasive species.
- Clean—Completely remove all mud, water, and vegetation you find. Boaters need to drain boats and use hot water with a pressurized power sprayer, found at most do-it-yourself car washes. The hot water helps kill organisms and the pressure removes mud and vegetation. No need to use soap or chemicals.
- Dry—Aquatic invaders can survive only in water and wet areas. Draining and drying boats, live wells, bilge areas and fishing gear, will kill most invasive species. The longer a boat, trailer, waders and other gear are kept outside in the hot sun between trips, the better.