Yellowstone catches quagga mussels during boat inspection

Prevents mussels from entering park waters

Posted 6/29/21

A routine boat inspection in Yellowstone National Park this month may have prevented an environmental catastrophe.

During an aquatic invasive species (AIS) inspection at Grant Village on June 17, …

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Yellowstone catches quagga mussels during boat inspection

Prevents mussels from entering park waters

Posted

A routine boat inspection in Yellowstone National Park this month may have prevented an environmental catastrophe.

During an aquatic invasive species (AIS) inspection at Grant Village on June 17, a Park Service inspector spotted quagga mussels on a visitor’s boat and stopped them from launching.

Park officials say the detection “prevented a major potential release of this highly invasive species into Yellowstone waters,” saying the mussels can “cause catastrophic changes to the ecosystem.” Quagga mussels can reproduce rapidly. Beyond altering an ecosystem, they can foul boats and equipment, clog water systems and lead to shores littered with mussel shells.

“I commend the Yellowstone AIS inspection team for their efforts at preventing the introduction of this dangerous aquatic invasive,” Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said last week. “It’s critical the public continues to partner with us to do their part to prevent the spread of AIS in Yellowstone waterways.”

Quagga mussels are just one of many aquatic invasive species that “pose a grave risk to the ecology, recreation and economy of the park and beyond,” the Park Service says. “Preventing the release of AIS is critical because control and removal after they become established in a watershed is usually impossible and efforts to reduce their impact can be extremely expensive.”

To prevent the spread of the unwanted species, park inspectors examine all boats, kayaks, canoes and float tubes before visitors can launch them. Watercraft that arrive dirty or with standing water are subject to decontamination as some of these species are microscopic. Watercraft that cannot be properly decontaminated will be prohibited from launching. Boats with ballast tanks are not permitted to launch within Yellowstone. 

Boaters in the park can speed up the inspection process by arriving with a boat that is clean, drained and dry. As for anglers, they’re warned that all of their fishing equipment and foot gear can carry AIS. Footgear with absorbent felt or other fibrous material on the soles are prohibited while fishing in Yellowstone.

“Clean, drain and dry your gear and do not move water or organisms from one water body into another,” park officials say.

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