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Boaters can help protect Montana from aquatic invasive species

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Boats launching on the Yellowstone River. PHOTO BY TUCKER HARRIS

More than 9,800 watercraft inspected so far this year


HELENA –Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer in Montana, and all aquatic invasive species inspection stations are now open on major routes of travel in the state. As boaters venture out to our rivers and lakes, please keep in mind the rules aimed at protecting our waters and preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

  • Be sure to always clean, drain and dry your boat and stop at inspection stations this holiday weekend.
  • All boats must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations they encounter. Failure to stop at inspection stations could result in a fine of up to $500.
  • Non-residents transporting watercraft into Montana must purchase a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass before launching. The fee is $30 for motorized and $10 for nonmotorized watercraft. The pass is valid until Dec. 31.
  • Inspection is required before launch IF: the boat is entering the state, crossing west over the Continental Divide or entering the Flathead Basin. 

More than 9,800 watercraft have been inspected so far this year, 16 of which were mussel-fouled. FWP works closely with other state Aquatic Invasive Species programs when mussel-fouled boats are destined for other states.

When a mussel-fouled boat is intercepted, Montana inspectors typically clean it, lock it to the trailer to prohibit launching and contact the destination state so they can arrange for follow-up and, if needed, a full decontamination when it reaches its destination.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and partner agencies operate more than 25 road-side watercraft inspection stations across the state. Typically, boat inspections are brief and include a short interview and check to make sure watercraft are not transporting mud, water, plants or invasive organisms. Larger or more complex boats may require additional time for an inspection.

Visit or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at (406) 444-2440 to find a watercraft inspection station or to learn more.

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