State waters mussel-free, again

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Tobias, a service dog, and his handler Ky Zimmerman search a boat for invasive mussels during a demonstration in this file photo.

Montana’s watercraft inspection stations set another record for boats inspected in 2019, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks reports. It also has found no evidence of adult mussels or their larvae in state waters, which means restrictions on Canyon Ferry Reservoir could be lifted.

More than 112,00 watercraft have been inspected so far this year, surpassing last year’s number by 3,000 inspections. Inspectors have intercepted 16 boats with invasive mussels coming into the state.

AIS monitoring crews have surveyed 300 unique waterbodies for aquatic invasive plants and animals. No mussel veligers or adult mussels were detected in the waters of Montana this year. That news has prompted FWP to initiate the process to lift the quarantine restrictions on Canyon Ferry Reservoir. If the restrictions are lifted, the Canyon Ferry certified boater program would end, and Canyon Ferry inspectors would shift to a mobile roving inspection crew.

The certified boater program on Tiber Reservoir will remain in place for the next two years. In 2016, invasive mussel larvae were detected in multiple water samples from Tiber Reservoir, which requires a five-year quarantine period. Canyon Ferry reservoir had one suspect sample that dictated a three-year quarantine period of mussel-free water samples.

An amendment to an administrative rule is required to change to the quarantine restrictions on Canyon Ferry Reservoir. A decision is expected by spring 2020, FWP said in a release.

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