HELENA — As temperatures warm up across the state, a lot more of us are heading out onto the water, but unfortunately that means there are a lot more opportunities for aquatic invasive species to gain a foothold here in the state.”
As you could guess by their name, aquatic invasive species could potentially cause public and wildlife health problems, impact irrigation and threaten fishing if introduced to our water.
To combat this, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has AIS inspection sights in a few select areas to catch invasive species – like mussels – that are on boats moving from places like the Midwest and southwest. Already catching a few boats passing through the state.
But widespread inspections will start in April.
“If you are a Montana resident and you’re not crossing the continental divide, going west over the divide, or going into the Flathead basin, an inspection isn’t required," FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau Chief Tom Woolf. "Inspections are required for boats coming into the state, crossing west over the divide or going into the Flathead Basin.”
And the list of invasives FWP is on the hunt for go beyond mussels.
“In the state, we had several new detections of Eurasian Watermilfoil, an invasive plant that causes problems. It really grows in thick beds, making it difficult to boat and can choke out irrigation systems and that type of thing. Also things like New Zealand mud snails, that’s a really small invasive snail that can move on wading gear. It can also move on boats. Things that we want to make sure we don’t move around further in the state.”
Stopping that is pretty simple.
“Just make sure It’s clean. So if a boat is in a garage, it’s not going to have any live invasive species on it," said Woolf. "But we want to make sure every boat is cleaned, drained and dry.”