Invasive Mussels Found On Boat Entering Idaho

May 17, 2016

Idaho officials intercepted a boat Tuesday on U.S. Highway 93 that was carrying a potentially harmful invasive species.

The boat was moored in Lake Mead, Nevada, which is infested with quagga and zebra mussels. When it entered Idaho, the owners were required to stop at one of the state’s 16 inspection stations to ensure none of the invasive species were brought into the state.

But Lloyd Knight, with Idaho’s Department of Agriculture, said that’s not what happened.

“They decided they didn’t need to stop at first and then they found a nice deputy from the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Department that reminded they did indeed need to stop. So he got them turned around, sent back to the station, our folks did the inspection and found the mussels on the boat,” said Knight.

The boat was infested with live mussels. It was immediately impounded by the Department. It will be held for up to 30 days to ensure it’s clean before it’s released.

Since 2009, when Idaho’s prevention program started, 300,000 inspections have been performed. Nearly 145 infected watercraft have been found.

“We want to find them; we want to make sure they’re clean. This boat will actually be held now for up to 30 days as we de-contaminate and ensure that as we send it on its way that it’s not carrying invasive species when it leaves here,” said Knight.

The Department has also monitored lakes, rivers and reservoirs as well. They look at 700 water samples each year. He says this year, the Agriculture Department has been working to add more law enforcement presence at the inspection stations.

Currently, Idaho waterways are free of quagga and zebra mussels. Knight says the mussels are a dangerous species, which can cost cities and states millions of dollars in damage.

“These things can really impact irrigation diversion, power generation, municipal water uses; it can really plug up those systems. Obviously it can be very damaging to fish habitat. They’re just a bad deal, all the way around,” said Knight.

Knight says Idaho has managed to keep the invasive species out of the state through prevention.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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