The long winter might have delayed some of the annual invasion, but boats are now pouring into and traveling through Montana.

And not all of them are clean.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has announced that, with the exception of Eureka, watercraft inspection stations are open. All vehicles transporting any type of boat, including canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and rafts are required to stop at all open inspection stations they encounter. So far, there has been no shortage of watercraft to inspect.

Montana FWP says that so far, more than 2,400 watercraft have been inspected. Of those, 13 boats have already been found to be transporting invasive mussels. A recent example is the pontoon boat that was intercepted at the Wibaux inspection station, along Interstate 94, on the eastern edge of the state. The boat had been purchased in Wisconsin and was being transported to Idaho. Inspectors preformed a decontamination, locked the boat to the trailer and notified Idaho to follow up. Yeah, they mean business.

Watercraft inspection stations are Montana’s first line of defense to prevent the movement of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), which can have devastating impacts on Montana waterways. FWP has some pretty specific inspection rules that need to be followed:

>All watercraft coming into Montana from out of state must be inspected prior to launching.

>All watercraft traveling west across the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin must be inspected prior to launching.

>Anyone transporting watercraft must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations they encounter.

>And all boaters are reminded to always clean drain and dry their boat, live wells, anchors, boots and gear when leaving the water.

Here's to a safe AND mussel-free boating season to one and all.

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