“After a relatively short-lived ice fishing season many people are boating on local reservoirs much earlier,” said Wyoming Game and Fish Department Green River Region Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist Wes Gordon. “With the threat of invasive quagga mussels so close to home and the threat these invasive mussels could pose to the Gorge, it is just so important that boaters get their watercraft inspected and remember to drain, clean, and dry your watercraft and equipment after every use.”
“In 2013 Wyoming instituted a mandatory watercraft inspection law which requires that all watercraft being transported by land into Wyoming from out of state must have an inspection prior to launching on any waters,” Gordon said. “The law is in effect year-round for watercraft which was last used within the last 30 days on waters where the invasive mussels are present, such as Lake Mead, NV or Lake Powell and Deer Creek Reservoir in Utah, and for all watercraft being transported into Wyoming from out of state from March 1 through November 30, even if you are a Wyoming resident.”
Zebra and quagga mussels ruin fisheries, clog boat motor cooling systems, foul watercraft hulls and equipment and clog water delivery systems used for power plants, irrigation and domestic water use, increasing maintenance costs; costs that are all passed on to the user. Even worse, these exotic filter-feeding mussels remove plankton, a.k.a. fish food, from the water resulting in serious declines in forage fish populations. These mussels cannot be eradicated from large reservoirs like Flaming Gorge, but Gordon says people can help by doing their best to prevent their spread into Wyoming.
All watercraft users are reminded that along with registration of watercraft for the upcoming boating season, watercraft used on Wyoming waters must have an AIS Decal. This is the sixth year the watercraft inspection program and AIS decal have been in effect.
The 2015 AIS decal is available on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS, all Game and Fish regional offices, and at automated license agents. A complete list of automated license agents may be found at the department’s website, under the Aquatic Invasive Species tab. There is also a combination watercraft registration and AIS Decal that may be purchased for one or three years.
A Wyoming AIS decal must be displayed on all watercraft using Wyoming waters with the exception of nonmotorized inflatable watercraft 10-feet in length or less. While these watercraft are not required to have a decal, they still require an inspection when coming from out of state.
“I know some of our watercraft users get annoyed with our boat inspections and decontamination process, but please be patient and understand we take these steps in an effort to lower the probability of Flaming Gorge and other waters getting infested with mussels,” Gordon said. “Honestly, you, the watercraft users, are the first line of defense against an invasion. Even if we had every Game and Fish employee out inspecting boats all day, every day, we still cannot inspect every watercraft. Simply drain, clean, and dry your watercraft and equipment after every use and have your boat inspected when required to do so. We really do appreciate your time and vigilance.”