Montana inspectors find invasive mussels on 21 boats

May 24, 2021 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Watercraft inspectors in Montana have found aquatic mussels on 21 boats so far this year and officials said they expect a busy season trying to prevent the invasive organisms from fouling Montana waterways.

Aquatic mussels have no natural predators and can clog water pipes and displace native species. All watercraft including non-motorized boats must be inspected when coming into Montana.

The most recent cases involved two boats being transported through Montana last week on their way to Washington state. Inspectors decontaminated the boats using hot water and notified officials in Idaho and Washington state about the encounters.

Adult mussels can attach themselves to the bottom of boats and survive out of water for up to 30 days. Mussel larvae are microscopic and can float undetected in boat live wells, bilges and ballast tanks.

Inspectors found 16 boats with aquatic mussels in 2018, 16 in 2019 and 35 in 2020.

Failure to stop at inspection stations could result in a fine of up to $500.