Check Stations Find Invasive Mussels on 21 Out of State Boats
Montana’s mandatory boat inspection sites have been intercepting watercraft with invasive mussels at an alarming rate, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Education and Program manager for District 1 Dillon Tabish provided KGVO News with the numbers this week.
“So far we've already caught 21 boats that have been infested with mussels,” said Tabish. “That’s 21 already, and we're not even into June yet. So that shows you how many boats we have moving around but also how this threat is very serious and these inspection stations are very important to preventing those boats from launching.”
Tabish said that fortunately, none of the infested watercraft had come from Montana.
“All of these boats have been coming from out of state,” he said. “So Arizona has been a hotspot and then Utah. We've had a lot of boats coming from places like Lake Powell, Lake Havasu and Lake Mead, and ff you just do a quick Google you'll see they have been infested by these mussels, and so anytime there's a boat coming off those bodies of water everybody needs to be aware because those lakes are really high risk.”
As Memorial Day weekend approaches, Tabish urged extreme caution around area rivers.
“It's extra dangerous right now on the water because that water is extra cold from snow melt,” he said. It's going to take your breath away when you jump in. You really need to be aware of that and you need to watch for the signs of hypothermia. You also need to be aware of just how fast the currents are right now. On our rivers you really have to be careful about undercurrents because that fast moving water can really be dangerous. And so that's why it's so important to have your life jacket with you and have it on securely.”
Tabish also warned those recreating on area rivers to watch for debris and obstructions known as ‘strainers’.
“This time of year, that high water is really washing down a lot of stuff that might have fallen down in the winter or spring, and so it can create very hazardous debris,” he said. “What they call strainers in the water, where if you come up on a tree or a log that allows water to move through it can capture big objects, and you want to stay as far away from those hazards as possible. Those strainers can flip your boat and they can take people down. It's a very, very dangerous situation.”
To find a watercraft inspection station or to learn more, go to CleanDrainDryMT.com or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.
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