Boaters may be one of the state’s best defenses when it comes to preventing and detecting aquatic invasive species, said Eileen Ryce, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks aquatic invasive species coordinator.
Aquatic invasive species are organisms that are unintentionally brought into Montana from other places, including clams, fish, mussels, plants, weeds, and disease-causing pathogens.
“We encourage people to be alert for clusters of mussels or snails, unusual water plants—anything unexpected—and to report it to FWP,” Ryce said.
“Water recreators tend to be very familiar with their favorite waters and they are likely to be among the first to spot something new.”
Aquatic invasive species hitch rides on boats, trailers and other water-recreation equipment to infest a new lake, river or stream.
Boaters can thwart them by keeping vessels and equipment clean, and encouraging other boaters to do the same.
To help protect Montana’s waters from this serious and irreversible threat, follow these three easy steps:
After leaving a lake or stream, inspect your boat, engine, trailer, anchor, waders, and other fishing and boating gear for mud, water, and vegetation that could carry aquatic invasive species.
Completely remove all mud, water, and vegetation you find. Boats should be drained of water and boaters should use a pressurized power sprayer, found at most do-it-yourself car washes, to clean boats. The hot water helps kill organisms and the pressure removes mud and vegetation. No need to use soap or chemicals.
Aquatic invaders can survive only in water and wet areas. By drying your boating and fishing equipment thoroughly, you will kill most invasive species.
The longer you can keep your boat, trailer, waders, wading boots, and other equipment outside in the hot sun between fishing trips, the better.
Remember too, it is unlawful to release any live aquarium or bait fish into Montana’s waters.
It is also unlawful to move live fish, aquatic invertebrates or plants from one body of water to another without FWP’s authorization.
To learn more about aquatic invasive species, go to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov under For Anglers and look for Inspect. Clean. Dry.