Big Sky Roundup

FWP: More than 84K AIS inspections, 46 found with mussels, 300 found with aquatic weeds

By: - August 31, 2022 2:50 pm

FWP asks the public to continue to clean, drain and dry their boats to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. (Provided by the Flathead Lake Biological Station of the University of Montana)

So far this year, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and its partners have inspected more than 84,000 watercraft, 46 of which were mussel-fouled and 300 were found with aquatic invasive weeds, according to a news release Wednesday from FWP.

FWP, whose partners include the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Blackfeet Nation, also said more than 1,500 early-detection samples of aquatic invasive species, or AIS, have been processed this season from across the state, and no evidence of mussels has been detected in Montana waters.

In the news release, FWP said over the Labor Day weekend, it’s important that people continue to clean, drain and dry their boats and gear when they recreate on the water to prevent the potential spread of AIS, such as mussels and aquatic weeds.

FWP asks for the public’s help with AIS early detection. FWP said low water levels and the end of the growing season mean fall is a great time to detect new populations of AIS.

If you suspect an AIS population, take a photo, grab a specimen and contact FWP at 406-444-2449.

As a reminder, all boats must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations they encounter. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $500. Some inspection stations will begin shutting down after Labor Day, while others will operate into October.

To find a watercraft inspection station or to learn more, go to CleanDrainDryMT.com or call the FWP AIS Bureau at 406-444-2440.

In addition to stopping at all watercraft inspection stations, boaters need to follow these rules, FWP said:

  • Be sure to always clean, drain and dry your boat.
  • Non-residents transporting watercraft into Montana must purchase a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass before launching. The fee is $30 for motorized and $10 for nonmotorized watercraft. The pass is valid until Dec. 31.
  • Inspection is required for Montana residents before launch IF: the boat is entering the state, crossing west over the Continental Divide or entering the Flathead Basin.

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