oating season is here, and boats of all types are hitting the water in Wyoming. But before launching, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department would like to remind boaters of a few things to do to help protect our waters from aquatic invasive species.
First, please “clean, drain and dry” all of your gear and your boat every time you leave the water. Standing water in a motor, livewell, ballast tank and also plants or mud are all excellent vectors for spreading invasive species. We have a new regulation for 2018: All bilge and ballast plugs that prevent water drainage from a watercraft shall be removed or remain open while the watercraft is transported by land within the the state of Wyoming.
Next, our watercraft check stations opened April 28, and if you have boated outside of Wyoming or are traveling past an open check station, you are required to stop for an inspection. The boat inspection will be quick if you “clean, drain and dry” your boat prior to arriving at the check station.
Lastly, please purchase an AIS decal prior to launching. AIS decals are available at any WGFD office, any license selling agent or online at wgfd.wyo.gov. All boats, including kayaks, canoes, jet skis and inflatables more than 10 feet long require an annual AIS decal prior to launch.
In 2017, 5,587 watercraft inspections were conducted in the Sheridan Region and 576 of those inspections were considered high risk. A high-risk inspection is mandatory for a watercraft that has last been launched on a zebra or quagga mussel-infested water, or is transporting any plants, mud or water from another state.
Of those high-risk inspections, 73 required decontamination with 140 degree water to remove the potential of the boat carrying invasive mussel larvae. Four boats were found to be transporting attached adult zebra or quagga mussels from Lake Powell, Lake Michigan or Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin. Thankfully, the mussels on all four vessels were dead from being out of the water for several months, and they were able to be removed by our AIS technicians at our inspection check stations.
The WGFD is very thankful for all boaters who comply with watercraft inspection requirements, and we look forward to another season of working with the public to prevent the spread of AIS to pristine Wyoming waters.
Invasive species found in Keyhole Reservoir
In 2017, Asian clams were discovered in Keyhole Reservoir. Previously, Asian clams were only known to be in the North Platte River and Laramie River in Wyoming. The invasive species can clog water systems, compete with native species and contribute to algal blooms causing oxygen depletion.
It is unknown how Asian clams arrived at Keyhole Reservoir, but a likely vector could be the transport of water containing viable Asian clam larvae. It is very important to “clean, drain and dry” boats and all gear, and to also follow the new 2018 regulation to remove all boat plugs after exiting the water and to travel with all boat plugs removed.
Mike Locatelli is the Sheridan Region aquatic invasive species crew leader.