Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native plants, animals or pathogens that can invade new waterbodies by hitching a ride on watercraft and gear. AIS can include mussels, snails, fish, plant fragments or larva that can only be viewed under a microscope.
Both motorized and non-motorized boat owners can help stop the spread of AIS by following the principles of clean, drain, dry.
- Clean all mud and debris from the watercraft, trailer, waders and fishing equipment.
- Pull drain plugs and make sure all compartments, bilges and ballasts are drained.
- Dry out watercraft, including live-wells, storage areas and hatches.
Additional factors boat owners should be aware of:
- Used watercraft purchased from out of state can pose a greater danger of harboring AIS.
- Commercially hauled watercraft pose a higher risk as larger watercraft are often moored for extended periods of time.
- Boats with ballast tanks or bladders can suck plants or animals into tanks and intake grates.
- Fishing boats with live-wells or bait wells must be drained to prevent moving surface water where microscopic AIS could be found.
- Nonresidents bringing boats to Montana must have their boats inspected before launching. They must also purchase a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass online here.
To learn more, go to CleanDrainDryMT.com or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.