Boaters may be one of the state's best defenses when it comes to preventing and detecting aquatic invasive species. Aquatic invasive species are organisms that are unintentionally brought into Montana from other places, including mussels, fish, clams, weeds, and disease-causing pathogens.
"FWP encourages boaters to be alert in and around the water for clusters of mussels or snails, unusual water plants—anything unexpected—and to report it to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks," said Eileen Ryce, FWP aquatic invasive species supervisor.
"Water recreators are very familiar with their favorite waters, their boats and gear, and they are likely to be among the first to spot something new," she said.
Aquatic invasive species hitch rides on boats, trailers and other water-recreation equipment to infest a new lake, river or stream.
FWP aquatic invasive species inspection stations are operating at key locations around the state to inspect boats and trailers for aquatic invasive species. Boaters must stop for an inspection under Montana law.
Boaters can also help prevent or slow the spread of these species by keeping vessels and equipment clean, and encouraging other boaters to do the same. Follow these three easy steps:
After leaving a lake or stream, inspect your boat, engine, trailer, anchor, waders, and other fishing and boating gear for mud, water, and vegetation that could carry aquatic invasive species.
Completely remove all mud, water, and vegetation you find. Boats should be drained of water and boaters should use a pressurized power sprayer, found at most do-it-yourself car washes, to clean boats. Hot water helps kill organisms and the pressure removes mud and vegetation. No need to use soap or chemicals.
Aquatic invaders can survive only in water and wet areas. By drying your boating and fishing equipment thoroughly, you will kill most invasive species. The longer you can keep your boat, trailer, waders, wading boots, and other equipment outside in the hot sun between fishing trips, the better.
It is unlawful to release any live aquarium or bait fish into Montana’s waters. It is also unlawful to move live fish, aquatic invertebrates or plants from one body of water to another without FWP's authorization.
Remember, it is mandatory to stop at all watercraft inspection stations. Drive-bys could be stopped, asked to turn around and go through the station, and might be issued a citation. Please be responsible and go through watercraft inspection stations each and every time. If your boat is clean, drained, and dry the inspection process should be quick and painless.