Update on Invasive Mussel Defensive Measures - October 2017
The Shuswap Watershed Council also received an update from the Provincial Invasive Species Coordinator on the continuing efforts to identify potential carriers of invasive mussels from east of the Rockies. As a reminder, zebra and quagga mussels were brought to the great lakes many years ago and have spread west and south, resulting in environmental and economic degradation as far west as Manitoba in Canada and throughout the eastern and southern US. Alberta, BC, Washington, Oregon Idaho and Wyoming are currently free if infestations. Montana and Saskatchewan are listed as high-risk areas.
The defensive measures include compulsory reporting and inspections at highway crossings into Alberta and BC, and at border crossings from the US. All boats being transported into BC, including canoes, kayaks , and sail and paddle boards are required to report for inspection. Questionnaires help identify vessels from high risk areas and then are further inspected by both conservation officers and even a mussel sniffing dog (named Kilo). This year, a total of more than 35,000 vessels were inspected, identifying more than 2,000 from high risk areas and 24 that were, in fact, mussel fouled. These boats were decontaminated and quarantined for 30 days before they could be released for use in BC.
This is good news but we can’t let our guard down if we want to keep “our lake” free of these mussels. If you are approaching an inspection station and are transporting a boat or other watercraft, pull in and cooperate with the inspectors. They will be helpful, but if they are suspicious and you are uncooperative, they can impound your vessel and issue a ticket. These fines can add up. One uncooperative boat owner at a USA-Canada crossing was actually given a 30 day deportation order back to the US.
Finally, if you spot mussels on your favourite beach and are unsure as to the species, take a photo, especially one with some evidence of size (such as a pen beside the mussel) and a GPS location, and then send this information to the invasive species team (addresses are on their web site) and they will give you a quick response.
More information on invasive species can be found at the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia website: http://bcinvasives.ca/