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Checking Stations Break Invasive Mussel Record Before July

Watercraft inspections are used to prevent aquatic invasive species, like quagga and zebra mussels, from spreading into Montana's lakes and streams.
Watercraft inspections are used to prevent aquatic invasive species, like quagga and zebra mussels, from spreading into Montana's lakes and streams.

State wildlife officials say a record number of boats carrying invasive mussels have already entered Montana this year.

There have been 18 boats detected at check stations throughout the state so far in 2020, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau Chief Thomas Wolf.

“We’ve never intercepted that many before in Montana,” he said. “Last year we had 16. I think the prior high was 17, and this is still early in the season.”

Wolf said there was a flurry of boat traffic this spring. As the novel coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S., many boaters were returning home to Montana, bordering states and Canadian provinces.

Wolf noted several new trends. There are more boats with a recent history of being in infected waters, being purchased in the Midwest or just heading to or through the state. Invasive mussels can survive up to one month, he said, posing a risk to Montana’s invasive-mussel-free waterways.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.