Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has begun the annual process of opening regional Aquatic Invasive Species watercraft check stations, according to Region One Education and Program Manager Dillon Tabish.

“This is a great time of year to start reminding yourself of what you need to do to get your boat ready to get out on the water and one big thing is clean-drain-dry,” said Tabish. “This is our effort to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species such as dangerous mussels that can harm our recreational opportunities or ecological waters. They can cause all kinds of trouble for our waters if they get in there. And so we're trying to prevent the spread of these AIS.”

Tabish said any watercraft, even float tubes, entering Montana waters must be inspected by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

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“Every type of boat,” he said. “If you're going to get out on the water then that boat needs to get inspected and obviously canoes and kayaks are included. It's a very quick process to get those inspected, and obviously it's a very easy process to clean those boats drain those boats and dry them. Those boats typically are low risk, although we have caught canoes and kayaks that have had AIS attached to them in the past, so they're not always free and clear of these, and that is what we're trying to prevent.”

Tabish described the problems that Aquatic Invasive Species present to Montana’s rivers, lakes and streams.

“You could be spreading AIS and like I said, whether it's mussels or weeds, you could be harming our amazing waters in Montana by potentially spreading an aquatic invasive species,” he said. “So if you if you talk to friends in other states where these AIS have taken over, it's just a bad deal all around. It causes huge economic losses. It clogs irrigation pipes, it hurts dams and utilities. It just ruins recreational opportunities and obviously damages the fisheries, so that can harm our fish population. So, it's bad news all around.”

Tabish said there are watercraft inspection stations strategically located all over the state.

“We've tried to strategically place these inspection stations mostly at the interstates highway systems, the places where people are commonly coming into our state from out of state because those out of state boaters contain the highest risk of all the boats. We're trying to make sure that they get inspected because right now in Montana, luckily knock on wood, we don't have any Quagga mussels or Zebra mussels infesting any of our bodies of water in Montana, and we want to keep it that way.”

Click here to find out more about Aquatic Invasive Species and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

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