The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
last week found invasive, non-native zebra mussels on a boat stopped for
inspection at the Washington-Idaho border on Interstate 90 just east of
The WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) crew
discovered three mussels on a pontoon boat, which was being transported from
Michigan to Alaska.
"Fortunately the mussels were dead and
the boat had been out of the water since last fall," said Pam Taylor,
WDFW's AIS sergeant in charge of the inspection station. "But the boat
made it through several other states with these mussels aboard without
Taylor said the boat received a "high
risk" inspection from top to bottom to make sure it was clean, drained,
and dry before it was released.
Zebra mussels are native to the Caspian Sea,
introduced into the Great Lakes in the mid-1980s in ships' ballast water. The
fingernail-size mussels have since spread to more than 20 states and two
Canadian provinces where they threaten native fish and wildlife by consuming
available food and smothering native species. They also clog water intakes at
power plants and other facilities, costing taxpayers millions of dollars a
Like quagga mussels, a related species, zebra
mussels can live out of water for up to a month and are easily transported on
Yesterday, the AIS crew also inspected another
vessel that had been on a Minnesota lake that had standing water aboard, Taylor
said. Her crew didn't find mussels in that boat, they took a water sample for
environmental DNA analysis to determine if mussels had been present. They then
drained and dried the boat before releasing it.
The two-month-old inspection station near
Spokane operates full-time under a cooperative use agreement on Spokane County
Parks property. It replaces the inspection effort conducted since 2016 at the
Washington State Patrol commercial truck weigh station on Interstate 90.
The new facility is funded by fees on
registered resident boats and by state legislation approved in 2017 that
authorized collection of new fees from nonresident watercraft owners and
commercial watercraft transporters. Funds also come from the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and grants secured by WDFW with support from the Pacific States
Marine Fisheries Commission and the Washington State Invasive Species Council.
Taylor said the number of watercraft inspected
at the new station this year is more than double what it was during the same
months last year. This May at least 1,000 watercraft were inspected at the new
WDFW operates another AIS inspection station
near the Washington-Oregon border on the Columbia River south of the
Tri-Cities, where about 600 watercraft were inspected during the month of May.
Taylor noted that anyone transporting any kind
of watercraft – from large boats to paddleboards – is required by law to stop
at the inspection station.
"If it floats, it's a boat," she
said, "and could harbor aquatic invasive species that could harm
-- CBB, June 1, 2018, “Montana Intercepts
Another Boat Carrying Zebra Mussels; Headed From Wisconsin To Alberta” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440838.aspx
--CBB, April 27, 2018, “Montana Stops Boat
From Ohio Loaded With Invasive Zebra Mussels; Was Headed To Puget Sound” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440606.aspx
--CBB, April 20, 2018, “Northwest Boat
Inspection Stations Opening For Invasive Species Check; Both Motorized,
-- CBB, Oct. 16, 2015, “Report Calls For
Regional Perimeter Defense Strategy To Combat Quagga, Zebra Mussels” http://www.cbbulletin.com/435271.aspx