Boat Owners be Warned of Invasive Species

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CASPER, WY - Wyoming's Game and Fish Department is warning boat owners of an invasive species infecting waterways across the nation.

The Zebra and Quagga mussels have infected much of the nation’s midwest and now all officials can do is contain it.

"They showed us power plants, irrigation gates, and they're just so encrusted that they can't even use them. It costs millions and millions of dollars to clean up," said White's Marine Center’s Co-Owner Craig White.

Aquatic invasive species are a threat to wildlife and people's water supply.

"Really what they do is they just attach to anything. Brick, glass, cement, you name it, they'll attach to it. So we think about moving water in the state like we do even for agriculture. If we have canals or other things lined with Zebra and Quagga mussels. They can really damage things by impacting water delivery," said Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Beth Bear.

Officials are taking steps to make sure the invasive species stays out of Wyoming's waterways.

“If you live in the Casper area and you do go out of state, say you go to Colorado or another state and you boat in their waters, then you do have to have your boat inspected,” said Bear. “When it comes back you can either do it at the port of entry or on our website."

Infected boats will be taken care of before entering the water.

"If a boat comes in that has evidence of mussels they'll quarantine that boat and they'll have to decontaminate it and make sure everything dries out so all the veligers are dead," said White.

Wyoming's lakes and reservoirs are somewhat self-contained, so the majority of the infestation is expected to come in on boats and prevention is key.

“They're willing to clean, drain and dry. They're learning the mantra and they're going through it. They're pulling their drain plug their keeping their live wells dry. You don’t want any storage lockers wet with life jackets and ropes and things like that," said White.

The species is known for their sharp shells which can wash up on shore and injure local beach goers.

Free watercraft inspection training will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. tomorrow at the Game and Fish headquarters in Casper.