Char-Koosta News 

According to the latest statistics released by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Monday, so far this spring 24 mussel-fouled watercraft have been detected among the 16,120 inspections conducted. That included 4,370 high-risk watercrafts last launched in states known to have AIS infestations. At this pace it appears that a new record of detected mussel-fouled watercraft will be set. 

The lion’s share, 11 of the 24, of the mussel-fouled watercraft were detected at the Anaconda inspection station among the 2,091 inspections conducted there that included 1,153 high-risk watercrafts. The Anaconda station is somewhat a catch-all station for I-90 and I-15 west and northbound traffic. The FWP and partners have more than 30 inspection stations strategically placed throughout the state at major entrance and in-state travel routes.

Last summer, a record high of 61 zebra or quagga mussel-fouled watercraft were detected among 123,311 inspections at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and partner inspection stations. The previous high was 35 in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic great escape to the boonies when a record number of 174,443 inspections were conducted. That was a 61,275 jump over the 2019 count of 113,168, a record number of inspections at that time. The 61 mussel-fouled watercrafts were four times the mussels found from 2017 through 2019.

At a February meeting of the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau Chief Tom Woolf said the increased number of detected mussel-fouled watercraft was do partially because of the AIS inspectors doing a good job and partially from people buying watercraft in the Midwest/Great Lakes areas and shipping them to the West through Montana. And that seems to be holding true so far this spring as 10 of the 11 infested watercraft came from the Midwest/Great Lakes areas as did 19 of the 24 total fouled watercrafts.

The Columbia River Basin of which the Flathead River Basin feeds into is the only major river basin in the United States not infested with the zebra or quagga mussels. An infestation would be devastating to various sectors of the Northwest and state economies. Once established, it is very difficult to control invasive aquatic mussels, which can damage water pipes, hydroelectric facilities and push out native species. Control efforts are very expensive and total eradication is unlikely.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes operate two inspection stations — Ravalli and Thompson Falls — in partnership with FWP. It also conducts inspections at the NRD Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation Division offices in Polson at 406 6th Ave. E. by appointment Monday through Thursday. For an appointment, call 406-883-2888 ext. 7200, or 7261.

The Ravalli inspection station has conducted 2,259 inspections, of those inspections 520 were on high-risk watercraft last launched in states known to have AIS infestations. The Ravalli station is open 24/7 until September 18. After that it will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until October 23 when it closes for the season.

The Thompson Falls inspection station has conducted 510 inspections, of those inspections 20 were on high-risk watercraft last launched in states known to have AIS infestations. The station is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week until September 18, when it closes for the season.

The Clearwater inspection station leads the way with 4,511 inspections conducted that included 531 high-risk watercrafts. The station has detected two mussel-fouled watercrafts. 

FWP recently announced that Butte native Tayler Templin will be the Northwest Montana AIS supervisor. She attended the University of Montana and obtained a degree in Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management before joining the FWP and the AIS Bureau as a roving site lead for Western Montana.

Templin is based out of the Region 2 office in Missoula and directly supervises the watercraft inspection stations at St. Regis, Eureka, Region 1 and Troy, and will continue to provide oversight and operational support for the CSKT operated stations at Ravalli and Thompson Falls. 

She works closely with the prevention efforts conducted by Glacier National Park and at Whitefish Lake and she continues to provide AIS information, education, and support to the many stakeholders and partners in Northwest Montana.

AIS Fouled Boats as of June 6, 2022 

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: June 3, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Havasu 

State of Origin: AZ

Inspection Station - Wibaux

Date: June 3, 2022

Water Last Launched: Pike Lake

State of Origin: MN

Inspection Station - Dillon 

Date: June 2, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Powell

State of Origin: UT

Inspection Station - Dillon 

Date: June 1, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Powell

State of Origin: UT

Inspection Station - Browning 

Date: May 30, 2022

Water Last Launched: Recently purchased in SD, unknown.

State of Origin: SD

Inspection Station - Wibaux

Date: May 27, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake St. Clare

State of Origin: MI 

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: May 25, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Michigan

State of Origin: MI

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: May 20, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Michigan

State of Origin: IL

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: May 20, 2022

Water Last Launched: Unknown 

State of Origin: MI

Inspection Station - Dillon 

Date: May 18, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Havasu

State of Origin: AZ

Inspection Station - Browning 

Date: May 14, 2022

Water Last Launched: MN somewhere

State of Origin: MN

Inspection Station - Wibaux

Date: May 13, 2022

Water Last Launched: Unknown

State of Origin: MN

Inspection Station - Clearwater Junction 

Date: May 5, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Superior

State of Origin: MN

Inspection Station - Clearwater Junction 

Date: May 4, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Ontario

State of Origin: NY

Inspection Station - Wibaux

Date: May 3, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Erie

State of Origin: Ohio

Inspection Station - Broadus

Date: April 25, 2022

Water Last Launched: Unknown

State of Origin: Michigan

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: April 24, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Beulah

State of Origin: WI

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: April 16, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Eerie

State of Origin: Ohio

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: April 13, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Michigan

State of Origin: Michigan

Inspection Station - Dillon 

Date: April 2, 2022

Water Last Launched: Michigan/Snake River 

State of Origin: ID/MI

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: March 30, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Michigan

State of Origin: Michigan

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: March 20, 2022

Water Last Launched: Unknown

State of Origin: Ohio

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: March 19, 2022

Water Last Launched: Caloosahatchee River / Unknown Wisconsin

State of Origin: Florida/Wisconsin

Inspection Station - Anaconda

Date: March 17, 2022

Water Last Launched: Lake Michigan

State of Origin: Michigan

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