Show us your mussels
Game & Fish offers training on how to inspect for aquatic invasive species
April 6, 2023
As boating enthusiasts gear up for the summer, so too do the Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s ongoing efforts to make sure that zebra mussels do not find their way into Wyoming waters.
Game & Fish is now offering training for the public on how to perform inspections for these and other aquatic invasive species (AIS), offering the necessary skills to inspect your own and other watercraft.
“Aquatic invasive species can have far-reaching impacts on Wyoming water resources for agriculture, municipalities and wildlife. Many of these invasive species significantly change ecosystems, negatively affecting native species and our highly-prized fisheries,” said Josh Leonard, Game and Fish aquatic invasive species coordinator, in a press release.
“Educating members of the public about AIS and inspection techniques, along with how to properly Clean, Drain and Dry their boats, is critical in the fight to prevent the spread of AIS to Wyoming.”
Zebra mussels have been a focus for Keyhole State Park over the last year due to its proximity to the South Dakota border. An infestation of zebra mussels was reported at Pactola Reservoir last year, just 30 miles across the border – the closest location where the invasive creatures had yet been found.
This was the first time zebra mussels had been found in a natural water body so close to Wyoming. Game & Fish is also aware that many boaters enjoy frequenting waters on both sides of the state line.
At this time, Wyoming is one of the only states to remain free of the destructive species.
In response to the threat, Game & Fish began planning early for the summer season this year with the goal of ensuring that recreationists can still enjoy the waters while putting protections in place to prevent an infestation.
The department announced in February the changes that would be made to check station hours and availability, for example, and are now offering training on aquatic invasive species inspectors.
The trainings include information such as the basic biology of invasive species, the potential impacts of an infestation, transport vectors and distribution of aquatic invasive species. They consist of classroom instruction, as well as a question-and-answer session and a hands-on watercraft inspection exercise.
These trainings are free and open to anyone.
While zebra mussels are a current concern, the training also addresses other potential invasive species, such as quagga mussels, rusty crayfish or aquatic vegetation like hydrilla.
The one-day courses run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the spring at locations around the state. Contact [email protected] for more information or visit the Game & Fish website to sign up online. Limited slots are available for each course.
For boat owners heading to Keyhole or Glendo, all watercraft traveling into Wyoming from now until November 30 must be inspected prior to launch. Boat owners must stop at any open AIS check station they pass with their watercraft while traveling to or from their boating destination.
Instead of the boat ramp restrictions that were put in place last year as a temporary measure to guard against the threat at Keyhole and Glendo reservoirs, existing check stations in Beulah and Torrington and at the two reservoirs will have increased staffing and hours.
The changes have been made to provide additional opportunities for watercraft owners to comply with inspection requirements. The check stations will be prominently marked with road signs.