FWP releases 2018 Aquatic Invasive Species report

Posted at 6:04 PM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 21:07:48-05

HELENA – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) reports that after a second year of record testing and enforcement, no mussel larvae or adults mussels where detected in either Canyon Ferry or Tiber reservoirs during 2018.

Testing efforts began following positive results tests in 2016 that showed signs of zebra mussels in the two water bodies.

Over the course of 2018, FWP and partners tested more than 1,400 sites on 250 water bodies and inspected more than 100,000 watercraft.

16 out-of-state vessels with mussels were intercepted in Montana and FWP enforcement issued more than 50 citations and more than 170 warnings in 2018 related to invasive species violations.

While no mussels were discovered in Montana waters, testing did find a new population of invasive faucet snails in Lake Frances near Valier.

Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau Chief Thomas Woolf said testing and inspection were only part of the effort with educating and informing the public on how to prevent the spread of invasive species being a big success.

“Every time we inspect a boat it’s not just looking at the boat, but it’s also educating the public making sure they’re doing their part to clean, drain and dry,” said Woolf.

Woolf also cautioned that while no larvae were found this year that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t present.

“Small populations can be difficult to detect and we did have that detection in 2016,” added Woolf. “Mussels cause serious damage to aquatic based infrastructure. So when we talk about hydroelectric plants, we talk about irrigated agriculture the economic impacts are huge. And then on top of that your habitat impacts on native species really hits them hard and changes fisheries.”

FWP is currently evaluating how they can improve their program going forward in 2019 and hope to make the checking stations more efficient in the future.