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NW Fishletter #391, March 4, 2019
 Montana Intercepts 16 Out-Of-State Vessels With Mussels
Montana state agencies inspected more than 107,000 boats in 2018, discovering 16 out-of-state vessels with invasive mussels and 170 with aquatic weeds.
The most common reason for failing an inspection was having standing water in bilges and live wells.
The interceptions were part of an effort by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks--in partnership with state agencies, tribes and others--to implement the state's aquatic invasive species management plan.
The annual inspection report notes that watercraft inspections have occurred in Montana since 2004, and have been mandatory for all boaters since 2011, but inspections tripled after quagga and zebra mussels were detected at the Tiber and Ferry Canyon reservoirs in late 2016.
Last year's inspections were up from 86,407 in 2017 and 39,522 in 2016. According to the report, boats traveling from Eastern states tend to come from areas where zebra mussels, quagga mussels and Eurasian milfoil are prevalent, such as the Great Lakes region.
The agency also released its 2018 report on early detection and monitoring for aquatic invasive species, which reported that plankton tow sampling--where a fine-mesh net is towed through the water to collect the larval phase of the mussels--has tripled since 2016.
Last year, over 2,100 early detection samples were collected from some 240 water bodies, and no mussel larvae or adults were detected. Additional sampling occurred on Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoirs, including inspections by scuba divers and snorklers, mussel detection dogs, and mussel eDNA sampling.
In a news release, the agency noted that watercraft inspections are key to preventing the spread of invasive species. Boaters are asked to clean, drain and dry their boats to prevent the spread of the invasives. -K.C. Mehaffey
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