Across the nation AIS ( Aquatic invasive species) are threatening aquatic habitats. Lakes,Rivers and streams are threatened by species such as Asian Carp, Rock Snot, Hydrilla and Zebra Mussels. When Boaters and anglers Clean,Drain and Dry their equipment after every outing on the water they can help prevent the spread of AIS. In Montana we are blessed with many amazing rivers to fish all within a day drive from one another. This can lead to problems with AIS being transported from one watershed to the next. In November of 2016 FWP found Zebra mussels in Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoir causing these bodies of water to be shutdown temporarily to boating. There has since been reports of possible contamination in the Milk River and the Missouri River south of Townsend. As of now the Columbia River Basin is said to be the only major watershed in the west still believed to be free of zebra mussels.
Zebra Mussels are a small freshwater mussel that are native to the Black and Caspian Sea in Eurasia. They first appeared In the great lakes in the late 1980's thought to have been transported in the ballast water of ocean going ships. Zebra Mussels are a filter feeder that feeds on algae. The problem is that since they are not native to the United States they have no natural predators, leading to them over populating a river system and and eating all the algae. This in turn destroyes the bottom of the ecosystem and thus the water body as a whole.
The outlook looks grim but there are a few simple things anglers can do to help slow the spread of AIS in Montana. Fish,Wildlife and Parks has put some AIS watercraft inspection stations near the Continental Divide. These check stations are mandatory for all watercraft and include a wash station for watercraft that have been on possible contaminated waterways. Anglers and boaters should also self regulate by practicing Clean,Drain And Dry methods.
Clean- Watercraft,trailers, motors and equipment like boots and waders. Remove any visible aquatic plants,mud and animals matter before leaving any water access.
Drain-Water from boat,bilge,motor and live well by removing the drain pug and opening all water draining devices away from the boat ramp.
Dry- Everything at least 5 days before going to other watershed or spray and rinse your equipment with high pressured hot water above 120 degrees.
This is definitely an uphill battle with most of the rivers losing. But with help from anglers and recreational water users we can slow down the spread of AIS and keep our waters healthy.