HELENA — Montana’s watercraft inspectors have intercepted a record number of boats carrying aquatic invasive mussels this year with nearly half of the boating season remaining, the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said.
Inspectors identified two infested boats last week, bringing this year’s total to 41, the Montana State News Bureau reported Thursday. The previous record was 35 boats intercepted last year. The number of inspections has remained about the same, officials said.
Aquatic mussels have no natural predators and can clog water pipes and displace native species. All watercraft including non-motorized boats must be inspected when coming into Montana to prevent zebra and quagga mussels from becoming established in the state.
Adult mussels can attach themselves to the bottom of boats and survive out of water for up to 30 days. Mussel larvae are microscopic and can float undetected in boat live wells, bilges and ballast tanks.
Thomas Woolf, the state’s Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau chief, said there’s some continued increase in outdoor recreation due to COVID-19 and Montana residents have been buying boats in the Midwest, where mussels are established.
“We’re also seeing people moving here bringing their boats,” he said.
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