Proposed Rule Changes
Last night, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks hosted a public hearing on new rules aimed at controlling the spread of invasive mussels.
The new regulations include the following:
- All out of state watercraft would need to be inspected by FWP prior to launch in any Montana waterbody.
- All watercraft leaving Canyon Ferry and Tiber Reservoirs would need to be inspected.
- All watercraft crossing the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin would need to be inspected.
Along with these new rules, FWP is increasing enforcement, instituting new penalties, and investing in public outreach and education programs.
If approved, these new rules will go into effect April 15 and violation of them will result in charges ranging from misdemeanor to felony depending on the severity of the infraction. Preventing the spread of invasive species has become a critical priority for wardens and enforcement personnel.
At last night’s public comment hearing, everybody in attendance was on the same page. Walleye anglers, flyfishermen, boaters, and aquatic recreationists all voiced their fears of invasive mussels and their desire to protect all waterbodies within Montana. Commenters emphasized the importance of thorough and frequent monitoring for mussel larvae to aid in early detection of any future infestations.
Individuals voiced their desire for increased enforcement and penalties that would strengthen the impact of the new rules.
Montana FWP is accepting public comments until March 17. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What We Can Do
We can all help prevent the spread of invasive species by following the advice of Montana FWP: Inspect. Clean. Dry.
Although the new rules are aimed at mussels which are typically spread by boats with internal compartments, drift boats and waders can transport invasive species like New Zealand mudsnails, didymo (rock snot), and whirling disease.
Before moving from one body of water to the next, please take the time to remove all vegetation from your equipment, hose it off, and let it dry. Let’s keep the fantastic resources we have free of invasive species!