State catches two ‘mussel encrusted boats’ over Memorial Day weekend

State catches two ‘mussel encrusted boats’ over Memorial Day weekend

Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle
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By Michael Wright Chronicle Staff Writer

State inspectors dealt with two separate boats carrying invasive mussels over Memorial Day weekend.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a news release Friday that one boat encrusted in adult mussels stopped at an inspection station in Wibaux on May 26. Another, also encrusted in adult mussels, was stopped after it bypassed a boat inspection station near Hardin the next day.

“The interception of these boats over the weekend reinforces the importance of our efforts around Montana,” Tom Woolf, the aquatic invasive species bureau chief for FWP, said in the release.

The boat that stopped at the Wibaux inspection station was traveling to West Yellowstone from the Great Lakes region, where mussels exist. The crew at the inspection station washed the boat, and it was fully decontaminated in Bozeman on Friday.

The other boat was being hauled commercially to British Columbia. All boaters are required to stop at inspection stations they drive past, and when this boat didn’t stop at one in Hardin, the station crew called 1-800-TIP-MONT. Montana Highway Patrol responded, stopping the boat and forcing it to return to the inspection station.

Inspectors washed the boat but did not decontaminate it because it wasn’t scheduled to launch on Montana waters. Canadian authorities were notified of the boat.

Montana launched a vast aquatic invasive species program this spring after the discovery of invasive mussel larvae in two reservoirs last fall.

Mussels are shelled organisms that reproduce quickly and stick to hard surfaces. When they reproduce en masse, they can cause major damage to dams and irrigation infrastructure.

The new program lines out increased inspection requirements for boaters, increases in water sampling efforts and doubling the number of boat inspection stations.

The two incidents illustrated exactly what the state wants to prevent with the increase in inspections, said FWP spokesman Greg Lemon.

“They were obvious examples of boats that were traveling into Montana that were presenting an obvious problem,” Lemon said.

State inspectors found mussels on seven boats in 2016, Lemon said, adding that these two stood out because of how many mussels were found on them.