Alberta inspectors have discovered invasive mussels on two boats this summer, prompting a reminder for boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats.
The contaminated boats, intercepted at Dunmore and Vermilion weigh stations, were headed to Alberta waters from New York and Ontario.
One of the contaminated boat owners admitted he was very thankful for the inspection station, as he wouldn’t want to be responsible for bringing mussels into an Alberta lake.
Of the approximately 2,500 completed inspections since June 9, two boats were found to have zebra mussels attached and 99 boats were deemed “high risk”, which means they were coming from states or provinces that are either infested with mussels or not currently implementing inspection and monitoring programs.
“Alberta is being very proactive in taking steps to stop invasive mussels from entering our lakes,” said Robin Campbell, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. “Our success really depends on boaters taking advantage of inspection sites and always cleaning, draining and drying their boats. With only about half of boaters stopping to have their watercraft inspected this summer, stricter measures may be necessary to protect our waterways.”
Once introduced to a waterbody, zebra and quagga mussels are virtually impossible to eradicate and can cause millions of dollars in damage to water-operated infrastructure and harm aquatic ecosystems. An infestation in Alberta would have an estimated annual cost of $75 million.
If a boat is found to have mussels attached, it will be decontaminated and the owner may be directed to keep the watercraft out of the water for up to 30 days.
Inspections sites will remain open until the end of September and are located at Burmis, Coutts, Dunmore and Vermilion weigh stations, as well as at various provincial parks.
As an addition to the established inspection program, Alberta joined forces with Montana in a pilot project this summer using “sniffer” dogs to detect mussels at inspection sites. The project was the first of its kind in Canada and may become a permanent addition to the inspection program.
Call Alberta’s invasive species hotline at 1-855-336-BOAT (2628) to report zebra or quagga mussels.