Wyoming On High Alert For Aquatic Invasive Species After Confirmation In Montana

May 23, 2019

Quagga and Zebra Mussels
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The discovery of zebra and quagga mussels in Montana waterways has northwest Wyoming on high alert.

The Aquatic Invasive Species have not been identified in the waterways of Northwest Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park yet. But biologists are very worried about the potential consequences if they do appear.

Alex LeCheminant, the Aquatic Invasive Species specialist in the Cody and Lander regions for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said the mussels can potentially ruin infrastructures like dams costing the state millions of dollars.

"We could see millions and millions and millions of these mussels attach to these hard substrates and sort of clog up infrastructure and really damage these things heavily," said LeCheminant.

He said it can also effect native fish populations because the mussels filter many of the essential nutrients from the water.

The department has increased the hours and days of the mandatory southbound boat inspections from Montana just north of Cody and in Franny.

"We're operating seven days a week and up to 11 hours a day during periods of suspected high traffic," said LeCheminant.

LeCheminant said the department additionally performs annual screenings of major waterways in Wyoming to make sure no mussels got in undetected. He said last year the screenings were clear of any Aquatic Invasive Species mussels.