What Happens to Your Boat if Found Fouled With Mussels in Montana
In terms of aquatic invasive species (AIS), it's been a pretty quiet year so far in Montana.
Maybe it's heightened awareness to "Clean, Drain and Dry." Maybe the late arrival of warmer weather has hampered the number of boats coming from areas where mussels are much more prevalent.
Whatever the reasons, of the 9,800 watercraft inspected in 2022 so far in Montana, only 16 have been found to be mussel-fouled. And looking at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks procedures, guidelines and potential fines, you don't want to be number 17.
With Memorial Day weekend upon us - the unofficial start to summer - all Montana aquatic invasive species inspection stations are now open on major routes of travel. And with it, more emphasis on the rules aimed at protecting our waters and preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.
All boats must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations. Failure to stop at inspection stations could result in a fine of up to $500. I personally witnessed a vehicle pulling a boat past the Ravalli Inspection Station last summer, failing to stop. A Montana law enforcement vehicle was in the station's parking lot at the time, and on came the flashing blue lights!
So, what happens when a mussel-fouled boat is intercepted? Montana inspectors typically clean it (nice) and then lock it to the trailer (not nice) to prohibit launching. Inspectors then ask the owner what body of water they were destined for, and make contact with authorities near that location, so they can arrange for follow-up and, if needed, a full decontamination when it reaches its destination.
Please remember that laws require all watercraft to be inspected, motorized or not. Float tubes, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, etc., also require inspection. You can find out more about Montana's AIS inspection stations here.
Be safe. Be vigilant. Be cleaned. Be drained. Be dry.