02/01/2012 - If you're a boater, chances are good you had your boat checked by Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) crews at one of the many checkpoints on Wyoming waters this past year.
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The checkpoints are designed to prevent introduction of Zebra and Quagga mussels in Wyoming waters and in 2011, nearly 43,000 boats were inspected at 32 different waters.
In addition to checking boats, crews actively monitor waters throughout the year to see if any invasive species are present. In 2011, WGFD crews sampled 52 waters using plankton tows, which are nets used to capture the larval form of zebra and quagga mussels.
According to AIS coordinator Beth Bear, "no larval invasive mussels were detected in any of the sampled waters in 2011."
WGFD also conducted shoreline and stream surveys to sample plants and animals (snails, clams, crayfish). Sampling efforts and checkpoints are funded in part through sales of the AIS decal required of boaters. In 2011, more than $432,000 was raised through sales of AIS decals.
Bear did say that an invasive species, the Asian clam, was detected in the Laramie River, and curly pond weed, a nonnative plant, was detected in Lake DeSmet. Another invasive species, the New Zealand mud snail, currently exists in Wyoming within Yellowstone National Park and in the Snake, Shoshone, and Bighorn rivers. Whirling disease is also present in a number of streams throughout Wyoming.
Bear said that even though no zebra or quagga mussels have been detected in Wyoming to date, it is important that anyone using Wyoming waters ensure that their watercraft, equipment, and gear are drained of all water, cleaned of all mud, plants, and debris; and dried thoroughly before launching in another water.
"AIS crews will resume the checkpoints on Wyoming waters this spring," Bear said. "In the meantime, anyone who has come from a water in another state and would like their craft inspected, can contact any of the Game and Fish regional offices." Bear also reminds boaters that if their craft has been in an infested water they must have their boat inspected before launching in Wyoming.
AIS information is found on the Game and Fish website http://gf.state.wy.us.