GREAT FALLS — A boat from Chicago bound for Seattle was quarantined and decontaminated at the Ravalli watercraft inspection station operated by the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).
The inspection found adult zebra mussels attached to the boat, according to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The boat came from mussel-infested waters and had been out of the water for less than two weeks.
The boat stopped at watercraft inspection stations in Wibaux and Anaconda but the mussels were not detected. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) protocol requires a contaminated vessel to be quarantined and decontaminated with hot water to remove and kill invasive species prior to being released from an AIS check station.
It is illegal to transport mussels, dead or alive, into or within the state of Montana. This is the second mussel-infested vessel that has been seized at the Ravalli AIS check station this year and the 15th mussel boat intercepted in Montana.
FWP and partner organizations operate watercraft inspections state-wide to prevent the transport of AIS. Stations increasingly are operated through contract with agencies to provide increased oversight and community involvement.
The watercraft inspection station at Ravalli is a partnership between CSKT and FWP and has been successful operating the inspection station this year. As preparations are made for the 2020 season FWP and partners are working together to identify strategies to increase oversight, management and enforcement at inspection stations to ensure boats like this are not missed in the future.
FWP says that an adult female zebra mussel can release a million eggs each year. Mussels have detrimental impacts on recreation and infrastructure when they attach to underwater surfaces.
Flathead Lake is one of the largest and cleanest freshwater lakes in the country. Boaters can stop the spread of aquatic invasive species by making sure watercraft is clean, drained and dry.