State’s water warriors doing battle against invasive species

Star Staff

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) personnel have been busy this summer keeping the state safe from invasive aquatic species.

According to an FWP news release more than 23,000 watercraft have been inspected at FWP invasive species inspection stations around the state this year. The effort began after invasive mussels were found in the state last year.

“This hot and dry weather has a lot of people looking to cool off in Montana’s lakes and rivers,” FWP’s AIS Bureau Chief Thomas Woolf said. “Get out on the water and have fun, but remember to stop at any open watercraft inspection station that you encounter in your travels.”

The news release said that nine boats with invasive mussels have been intercepted in Montana, most recently at the Browning inspection station on July 16.

“It’s important that people adhere to our new regulations and get their watercraft inspected when they come into the state and when they cross the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin,” Woolf said.

The agency aquatic invasive species monitoring program is also in high gear. More than 330 samples have been taken statewide for invasive mussels, and analysis is ongoing. To date no positive samples have been found.

FWP reminds boaters that watercraft leaving Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs must be inspected and decontaminated at FWP decontamination stations.

Watercraft owners are reminded to do their part after boating.

The news release advised boaters to “be sure your boat is clean, drained and dry every time it leaves the water. Make sure to clean off all weeds and debris, drain all water and dry all compartments.

“Pay close attention to live wells, ballast tanks and anywhere that can hold water. Do your part to help protect Montana’s waterways,” the news release advised.