Montana Sets Up Boat Checkpoints for Invasive Species

By Beacon Staff

HELENA — State wildlife officials are setting up boat inspection checkpoints to try to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering Montana’s waterways.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say state law requires vehicles hauling boats to stop at watercraft inspection stations, which are located at key border crossing sites, along major highways and near heavily used bodies of water. FWP aquatic invasive species coordinator Allison Begley said this month two boats were found carrying dead zebra mussels at a checkpoint near Hardin.

“Both boats had been out of the water for the winter, so the mussels were dried up and dead,” said Begley. “That was a heck of a way to start the season.”

The Independent Record reports that zebra mussels also were discovered on a boat near Missoula after someone called in a tip.

Begley said Montana continues to be free of the zebra mussel infestation that is reported in 26 states. Mussels are quick to reproduce and can clog intake pipes and damage piers as well as disrupt ecosystems.

“At the inspection stations, boats and trailers will be carefully inspected and boaters can learn more about how to identify invasive species and prevent their spread from one water body to the next,” Begley said.

The state has set up 13 monitoring stations along popular highways and will have mobile inspection stations at popular boating areas such as the Missouri, Clark Fork and Madison river drainages. In addition, roving crews will handle fishing tournaments and other boating events.

The state is also asking boaters to check, clean and dry boats, trailers and any gear exposed to the water.

Montana lawmakers earlier this year strengthened aquatic invasive species laws, including establishing a way to create a statewide aquatic invasive species management area.

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