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FWP winds down season boat inspections, nonresidents now required to purchase AIS pass

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The tiny New Zealand mudsnail measures 1/8-inch in length. PHOTO COURTESY OF MT FWP

EBS STAFF

BOZEMAN – At the end of September, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks released statistics from the 2019 boating season reporting on whether aquatic invasive species were discovered in locations throughout the state.

Overall, 110,000 boats were inspected at mandatory check stations throughout Montana. Many of these inspection stations closed at the end of September, but a few located in high-risk corridors will remain open through October.

Of those watercrafts inspected by FWP, which includes rafts, canoes, drift boats, kayaks and motorboats, 14 intercepted were transporting zebra or quagga mussels from out of state, while over 100 were carrying aquatic weeds.

All boaters in Montana are required to stop at watercraft inspection stations. Additionally, nonresidents planning to bring a watercraft into Montana are now required to purchase an annual Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass from FWP, which was initiated by the 2019 Montana Legislature.

“Protecting Montana’s waters relies on making sure we address the threat of boaters bringing zebra or quagga mussels, or other aquatic invasive species, into the state,” said Martha Williams, director of FWP, in a press release. “All the mussel-fouled boats that have been intercepted to date have come from out of state.”

The department reminds recreationists that all watercraft and trailers should be clean, drained and dried before transport. Montana requires inspections for all watercraft coming into Montana from out of state, all watercraft traveling west across the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin and all watercraft launching anywhere within the Flathead Basin that were last launched on waters outside of the Flathead Basin.

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