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Game and Fish catching more aquatic invasive species on boats entering Wyoming

An extremely small Zebra Mussel attached to some algae is held between fingers.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Wyoming Game and Fish has noted an increase of aquatic invasive species this year on boats coming into the state.

At check stations across the state, Game and Fish has found aquatic invasive species (AIS) on at least a dozen boats. Last year, Game and Fish found mussels on 55 boats across the whole season, which runs to November.

Game and Fish AIS Coordinator Josh Leonard said a dozen is a lot since it's still early in the season and this holiday weekend will bring an influx of visitors.

"We'll definitely start seeing more boats with AIS attached unfortunately," he said. "And I predict that we'll probably be close to that 55 number by the end of the season but time will tell."

Game and Fish encourages out-of-state boaters to use the clean-drain-dry method to kill off invasive species – some of which are microscopic.

Boaters entering the state are required to stop at check stations, where the watercraft is inspected and decontaminated if necessary.

Leonard said he doesn't know why they’re finding more this year, but it could be that lower water levels elsewhere are driving more out-of-state boaters to seek new waterways.

Game and Fish is concerned about all invasive species but some are more worrying than others, said Leonard.

"Zebra and quagga mussels are probably our least wanted species here in Wyoming and probably our number one threat to our aquatic resources here in Wyoming," he said.

These mussels can attach to, and clog up, irrigation infrastructure. And as filter feeders, they can disrupt the ecosystem by eating too much plankton and starving native fish species.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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