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Watercraft inspection

A watercraft inspector sprays down a boat using a decontamination station pressure washer.

The summer boating season in Montana has begun, and more than 24,000 watercraft have already been inspected at aquatic invasive species inspection stations around the state.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and partner organizations operate more than 30 watercraft inspections stations to ensure boats launching on Montana waters are free of aquatic invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels.

Boaters transporting motorized or nonmotorized watercraft are required to stop at stations they encounter, as directed by signs. In addition, boaters must seek out an inspection prior to launching if they are coming into Montana from out of state, traveling west over the Continental Divide into western Montana, coming off Tiber or Canyon Ferry reservoirs, or launching anywhere within the Flathead Basin with a watercraft that last launched on waters outside of the basin.

Boat owners transporting watercraft with ballast tanks or bladders must also undergo additional decontamination at watercraft inspection stations to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

To date, 11 boats with invasive mussels have been intercepted coming into Montana. Most recently a boat with mussels was intercepted at the Dillon inspection station on June 4, coming from Lake Mead traveling to Cutbank.

“With the recent discovery of adult mussels in a North Dakota lake, our mission to keep Montana’s waters free of mussels is more important than ever,” said FWP’s AIS Bureau chief Thomas Woolf. “Boat owners and anglers need to do their part and make sure their watercraft and gear are clean, drained and dry and to get inspected as required by law.”

Boat owners and anglers should follow the principles of clean, drain, dry to help protect our waters:

• Clean all mud and debris from the watercraft, trailer, waders and fishing equipment.

• Pull drain plugs and make sure all compartments, bilges and ballasts are drained.

• Dry out watercraft, including dry wells, storage areas and compartments

To find a watercraft inspection station and to learn more, go to CleanDrainDryMT.com or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.

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