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Conservation > AIS What you can do

When recreating in Montana, protect our waters by following these aquatic invasive species laws.

Clean. Drain. Dry.

CLEAN: Completely remove all mud, water and vegetation before leaving access area.
  • Cleaning will remove visible large-bodied organisms attached to or in watercraft or recreational equipment. Rinsing with water removes organisms, while hot water often kills them.

    • Water at least 120°F is recommended; be sure to avoid contact with skin and check manufacturers’ recommendations to ensure equipment can withstand high temperatures.

    •  If hot water is not available or may cause damage, rinsing with tap water and completely drying will help prevent spread of aquatic invasive species.

  • Inspect your boat, trailer, and all gear. Pay attention to crevices and hidden areas.

  • Remove all mud and vegetation.  Use a pressurized power sprayer found at most do-it-yourself car washes.  The hot water kills organisms and the pressure removes mud and vegetation. No need to use chemicals or soap.

  • Dispose of vegetation and debris in trash or on dry land away from water or ramp.

 
DRAIN: All water from watercraft and equipment.
  • Draining removes small and nearly invisible organisms such as invasive mussel larvae (veligers) that can be found in standing water.

  • Drain or remove water from boat, bilge, live well, engine, internal compartments, and bait buckets by removing drain plugs before leaving the access area.

 
DRY: Your watercraft and equipment. Aquatic invaders can survive only in water and wet areas.
  • Dry your watercraft and fishing equipment thoroughly; this will kill most invasive species.  The longer you keep your watercraft, trailer, waders, and other equipment outside in the hot sun, the better.

  • Drying is necessary as many organisms can survive in standing water.  

  • Dry in the sun (drying times will vary) or use a towel.

Motorized Watercraft

  • CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from watercraft, motor, trailer, and equipment before leaving water access. Scrub hull using a stiff brush. Rinse watercraft, trailer, and equipment with high pressure hot water when possible.  Flush motor according to owner’s manual.

  • Jet Boats and Personal Watercraft (PWCs) users: Clean off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from hull, trailer, intake grate and steering nozzle, etc. Run engine 5-10 seconds to blow out excess water and vegetation from internal drive before leaving water access.

  • DRAIN water from watercraft, motor, bilge, bladder tanks, livewell, and portable bait containers before leaving water access.

  • DRY everything for five days or more when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

  • Boats with ballast tanks or bladders, such as wakeboard or wake-surfing boats, that are transported into Montana or west across the Continental Divide must obtain a decontamination before launching on Montana waters.

Nonmotorized watercraft

  • CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from watercraft, gear, paddles, floats, ropes, anchors, dip nets, and trailer before leaving water access. Scrub hull using a stiff brush.  Rinse watercraft, trailer and equipment with high pressure hot water, when possible.  

  •  DRAIN water from watercraft, sponges, bailers, and water containing devices before leaving water access.

  •  DRY everything five days or more when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

  • Sailors: Clean off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from the centerboard, bilge board wells, rudderpost, trailer and other equipment before leaving water access.

Anglers

  • CLEAN off plants, animals, and mud from gear and equipment including waders, footwear, ropes, anchors, bait traps, dip nets, downrigger cables, fishing lines, and field gear before leaving water access. Scrub off any visible material on footwear with a stiff brush.

  •  DRAIN water from waders, watercraft, motor, bilge, bladder tanks, livewell and portable bait containers before leaving water access.  Replace with spring or dechlorinated tap water when keeping live bait before leaving water access.

  •  DRY everything five days or more when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

  • DISPOSE of unwanted bait, fish parts, and packing materials, in the trash; do not dump them in the water or on land.

  • Use non-felt soled boots to further reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species.

 

Hunters

  • CLEAN off plants, animals and mud from waders, hip boots, boat, motor, trailer, ATV’s, push poles, decoys, decoy lines and anchors before leaving water access.  

  • Brush hunting dogs and rinse kennels with tap water

  • DRAIN water from all equipment including waders, boat, motor, bilge and other water containing devices before leaving water access.

  • DRY everything five days or more when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

  • Use non-felt soled boots to further reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species.

  • Cut emergent vegetation above waterline for blinds or camouflage in accordance with regulations.

  • Use elliptical and bulb-shaped anchors to help avoid snagging aquatic plants.

Scuba and Snorkelers

  • Clean off plants, animals and mud from wetsuit, dry suit, mask, snorkel, fins, buoyancy compensator, regulator, cylinder, weight belt, boat, motor and trailer before leaving water access.

  • Soak gear used in freshwater dives in 3.5% salt solution (1/2 cup salt per gallon of water).

  • Rinse inside and outside of gear with hot water.

  • Drain all water from all equipment including buoyancy compensator, regulator, cylinder boot, boat, motor (if using) and any water containing devices before leaving water access.

  • DRY everything five days or more when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

Sea plane

Learn more at: Montana Sea Plane Association

  • CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from pontoons, cross members, steps, transom, rudders, chine, wheel wells, mooring ropes, wires, and cables. Scrub off any floats with a stiff brush. Rinse landing gear with high-pressure hot water, when possible. Landing in marine waters, if moving between freshwater bodies, can be an effective method of killing freshwater aquatic invasive species.  

  • At water take-off:

    • Avoid taxiing through aquatic plants.

    • Raise and lower water rudders several times to clear off plants.

  • After water take-off:

    • Raise and lower water rudders several times to dislodge aquatic plant fragments while flying over the waters you left or over land.

    • If aquatic plants remain visible on aircraft, return to same water body and clean them off.  

  • DRY water from floats before take-off.        

  • DRY everything five days or more, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse. Store aircraft on land when possible. Hot summer temperatures and flights during dry weather will help kill aquatic invasive plants and animals that may be on floats.

Water Gardeners and pond owners

Never transplant aquatic plants or animals from your pond into other water bodies.

  • Follow all regulations concerning pond building and stocking.  You need a permit from Montana FWP in order to build a pond and stock it with fish.  Refer to "A Guide to Building and Managing  Private Fish ponds in Montana" for more information, including a list of fish species that are allowed or prohibited in specific drainages.

  • Do not purchase or stock prohibited species and whenever possible use native plants and animals for your pond or garden.  FWP strongly recommends only using fish from Montana hatcheries, as these are regularly tested for AIS.

  • Obtain the necessary permits for possessing controlled species of fish such as koi and goldfish.

  • Properly dispose of unwanted plants and animals.

Aquarium and pet owners

Pets and fish released into the wild often do not survive. Pets that do manage to survive become an invasive species that native wildlife may not have the defenses to compete against. Responsible pet owners should find another owner, donate to a pet shop or humane center, or humanely euthanize. 

  • Never empty water from your fish tank into a water body or storm drain; instead pour water into the toilet or onto land far away from bodies of water.

  • Do not purchase prohibited species for your aquarium or terrarium. Red-eared sliders turtles are prohibited in Montana.

The "Don't Let It Loose" campaign can help find homes for displaced pets.


Field workers in the aquatic environment

Waders, nets and all other field equipment used in the water:

  • Separate all individual components such as insoles, socks, booties, ankle guards and laces. Wash all components separately.

  • Remove all sediment, vegetation and aquatic animals from all equipment. Pay particular attention to the soles of waders.

  • Disinfect all equipment in a 20% commercial bleach solution for 10 minutes or a 5% bleach solution for 1 hour.

  • If chlorine disinfection is not used, an alternative is to ensure all equipment is thoroughly cleaned with hot water such as in a bucket or bathtub and allowed to soak for sufficient time to allow components to reach water temperature, and allowed to dry completely for as long as possible between visits to different sites.

  • Do not transfer any water, mud, vegetation or animals between sites.

  • Always work from upstream to downstream.

  • Learn more: Guidance to Prevent the Spread of AIS through Field Gear

Wildland Fire fighters

In wildland fire management, AIS can be transported via firefighting equipment that contacts or transports untreated water, such as portable pumps (including floatable pumps), portable tanks, helicopter buckets, and internal tanks of fire engines, water tenders, helicopters, and fixed wing aircraft.

By being conscious of drafting techniques and following Clean Drain Dry principles, the risk of many types of equipment can be mitigated. The components that have the highest risk of introducing or spreading AIS include foot valves, drafting hoses and helicopter buckets.

  • Ensure that firefighting equipment is CLEAN and free of all plants, mud and organic debris, DRAINED of all standing water, and as DRY as possible before it is used again. Removing all organic material prior to decontamination is essential as it increases the efficacy of the treatment.

  • Required methods for decontamination include a hot water or chemical (chlorine bleach) bath.

  • When priming pumps, always use the water source (not the tank water) to reduce the chance of backflow from the engine tank into the water source.

  • Whenever possible, bring extra (clean) foot valves to reduce risk of spreading AIS.

 

Guidelines and recommendations from the Northern Rockies Coordinating Group and the National Wildfire Coordinating group can be found here under “Plans.”