MTPR

invasive species

Walleye are invasive species in western Montana.
Eric Engbretson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PD).

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved an emergency order Thursday requiring anglers in Upper, Middle and Lower Thompson lakes to kill any walleye caught in those bodies of water and turn the fish over to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP).

This comes just a week after FWP discovered two non-native female walleyes in Upper Thompson Lake during a routine fishery survey. The fish are thought to be illegally introduced and can severely alter ecosystems.

An illegally introduced walleye found in Montana's Swan Lake in 2015.
Courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Two nonnative walleyes were detected during a routine fishery survey west of Kalispell last week. The species could prove detrimental for a number of lakes in the area, and fishery managers are still deciding how to respond.

An aquatic invasive species inspection station in Montana.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

A coalition of state, federal, tribal and private organizations dedicated to protecting the Columbia River Watershed from aquatic invasive species (AIS) met in Polson Wednesday. They said building connections between local groups and water managers will be crucial to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels in Montana.

This sign from Minnesota gives a glimpse into one possible future if invasive mussels become established in Montana.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

If invasive zebra and quagga mussels were to infest lakes in Montana, the state could lose more than a $230 million per year in mitigation costs and lost revenue, according to a report released Thursday from the Montana Invasive Species Council.

Boat propeller encrusted with invasive mussels.
National Parks Service (PD)

A summit that could shape the future of invasive species policy in Montana will take place next week in Helena.

Stephanie Hester, coordinator for the Montana Invasive Species Council, says invasive species management in Montana spans the Departments of Agriculture, Livestock, Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and other organizations.

Invasive species decontamination in Montana includes some firefighting aircraft
Nicky Ouellet

Non-native species in Montana have a way of making their presence known.

In June a KULR TV reported this from near the Ft. Belknap reservation:

“Trooper Matt Finley says the driver of the vehicle swerved to avoid hitting a kangaroo,” said Angela Marshall.

Awareness of mussels in Montana, 2017 and 2018.
UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research

More Montanans are aware of the threat of invasive species this year compared to last year. That’s according to a new study by the University of Montana.

A boat carrying invasive zebra mussels was stopped at an Anaconda inspection station.
Montana Fish Wildife and Parks

A boat carrying invasive zebra mussels was stopped late last week at an Anaconda inspection station.

Divers with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Montana FWP prepare to dive at Tiber Dam to look for adult zebra and/or quagga mussels, August 7, 2017.
Beth Saboe - MontanaPBS

Some boat launches on Tiber Reservoir will be closed this summer to lessen the likelihood of contaminating other Montana lakes and rivers with invasive mussels.

Boaters will only be able to launch from the Tiber Marina and the VFW Campground, where inspectors will be on hand to check for invasive hitchhikers before and after launch, and decontaminate boats if necessary.

Watercraft inspection station sign.
Katrin Frye

State and tribal agencies are opening mandatory boat check stations this week to screen incoming watercraft for invasive species, like zebra and quagga mussels.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will open an inspection station at its regional office in Kalispell Thursday, March 15. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will open the Ravalli check station on Friday, March 16. The station along I-15 in Dillon will open Saturday, March 31, with more stations opening on a rolling schedule leading up to Memorial Day.

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