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.