So far this year, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture has performed more than 45,000 watercraft inspections looking for invasive species. In those inspections, 35 mussel-fouled watercraft carrying dead, non-viable mussels have been found.
The inspections, with are in its 11th season, are done to prevent spreading invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels.
Before launching on Idaho waters, all watercraft must have a current invasive species sticker, which is sold by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation at many locations across the state.
“Keeping Idaho’s waterways free from invasive species requires the diligence of all boat owners, including non-motorized vessels,” said Jennifer Okerlund, communications manager for the IDPR. “Idaho law states that any motorized or non-motorized boat operating in Idaho is required to display an Invasive Species Fund sticker. Only inflatable, non-motorized vessels that are less than 10 feet in length are exempt from this requirement.”
Tips for avoiding the growth of invasive species on a watercraft include:
- Clean watercraft and equipment before leaving any body of water. Clean watercraft, anchors, planes, trailers, waders, shoes, and gear for visible plants and pests. Dispose of material on-site in a trash can or on high, dry ground where there is no danger of it washing into water.
- Drain water from all equipment, including motors, live wells, sea strainers, wakeboard ballast tanks, boat hulls, scuba gear, bait buckets and boots. Pull the boat’s bilge plug and allow water to drain.
- Dry all vessel compartments and lay equipment out to dry before using in a different body of water.
The ISDA operates 20 watercraft inspection stations positioned at important corridors into Idaho. The program also includes six roving inspection teams. Law enforcement officers also play a role in the watercraft inspection program and have turned back nearly 1,000 vehicles traveling with boats or watercrafts.
“We’ve worked hard on this program but we certainly haven’t worked alone,” said ISDA Director Celia Gould. “We are very grateful for committed cooperators, law enforcement service, strong legislative backing, and the support of important partners such as Idaho Power. A collaborative approach is the only option for a threat of this magnitude.”
Watercraft users are required by law to stop for inspection when traveling past an Idaho invasive species station during operating hours.
The ISDA operates a hotline at 877-336-8676 for anyone needing information or a free decontamination wash for watercraft that may have been in mussel-infested waters. More information on the operation of inspection stations is available here.