Montana FWP creates new bureau to fight invasive mussels

Montana FWP creates new bureau to fight invasive mussels

Source: Billings Gazette
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The threat of invasive mussels has prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to create a new bureau to manage the prevention, detection and control of aquatic invasive species.

The Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau will be housed in FWP’s Fisheries Division, with plans to be operational beginning in March. The agency began a nationwide recruitment for a bureau supervisor this week and is seeking additional staff to man AIS check stations.

“Aquatic invasive species pose an enormous risk to Montana’s waters, economy, and way of life,” said Eileen Ryce, FWP Fisheries Division administrator in a press release. “The increasing scope and complexity of managing these threats requires a more comprehensive approach.”

Responsibilities of the Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau will encompass all aspects of AIS prevention, including early detection, rapid response, control, outreach and vector management.

In October 2016, Montana’s first-ever detection of invasive mussel larvae showed up in Tiber Reservoir — and “suspect” detections turned up in Canyon Ferry Reservoir, the Missouri River below Toston Dam and the Milk River. The discovery triggered a natural resource emergency in Montana and led to several recommended strategies to manage the threat of invasive mussels spreading to other areas.

In January, Montana’s Joint Mussel Response Implementation Team leaders presented a series of recommendations to the Montana Legislature to address prevention, detection and control efforts, including the creation of an AIS management bureau within FWP. Other recommendations included additional mandatory Montana watercraft inspection stations; deployment of watercraft decontamination stations at Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoirs; and doubling sample collection to more than 1,500 taken from more than 200 waterbodies, all of which will fall under the management of the new bureau chief.

Information on the AIS bureau chief position is available online at https://mtstatejobs.taleo.net/careersection/200/jobdetail.ftl?job=17140292. Applications are due Feb. 28.

All boaters and anglers are urged to take year-round precautions and to clean, drain and dry their equipment after each use. For more information visit musselresponse.mt.gov or Montana Mussel Response on Facebook.