Already this spring, at least six inspected boats were found with invasive mussels attached at Montana inspection stations. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks found the latest one April 10th at the Anaconda watercraft inspection station.

The pontoon boat was purchased in Minnesota and was passing through the state to Washington when inspectors found the mussels. They did a hot water decontamination and also notified officials in Idaho and Washington before releasing the boat. Other infested boats have come from Lake Mohave, Lake Powell and Lake Havasu, all of which are known to be infested with the aquatic species.

AIS Bureau Chief Tom Woolf said in a Montana FWP news release, "In just one day mussels can enter a live-well or attach to a boat's hull or transom. Always be sure your boat is clean, drained and dry when leaving the water." That includes moving from a Montana river or lake to another Montana river or lake.

The inspection stations were set up to try to keep aquatic invasive species out of Montana waterways, especially the Columbia River basin, which is connected to western Montana rivers and streams.

If you own a boat - motorized or non-motorized (such as a raft or wakeboard) - you must stop at any Montana watercraft inspection station, especially if you're coming from out-of-state. If you don't stop, you could get a fine of up to $500.

All water inspection stations will be open by the end of the month, including a station at the south end of the Bitterroot Valley at Sula. If you need more information check or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406 444-2440. Let's keep those mussels and snails out of our state waters.

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