In an effort to keep Wyoming waters free from harmful aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as zebra and quagga mussels, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has new regulations to prevent these species from entering the state on watercraft.
New Wyoming regulations require that any watercraft transported into Wyoming from March 1 through November 30 must undergo a mandatory inspection by an authorized inspector prior to launching in any water of the state. Any watercraft that has been in a water infested with zebra or quagga mussels within the past 30 days is required to undergo a mandatory inspection by an authorized inspector prior to launching year-round.
“Beginning April 15th, AIS inspection stations will be operated at ports of entry, border locations, and boat ramps,” said Regina Dickson, Game and Fish AIS crew leader for the Green River Region. “For people wanting to launch watercraft in southwest Wyoming there will be inspection stations on Flaming Gorge Reservoir at Firehole Boat Ramp and Anvil Draw Road near the junction with Hwy 530. There will also be an inspection station at the Interstate 80 Port of Entry in Evanston, Wyo. Information on inspection stations, including location and dates and hours of operation, may be found online at wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS or by calling 1-877-WGFD-AIS.”
Dickson said AIS inspection stations will be staffed seven days a week and will be open most daylight hours. If you are going out of state after boating on a Wyoming water and you plan to return before a Game and Fish inspection station is open you may do the following:
· You may stop by any AIS inspection station on your way off the water to have your boat inspected. A wire seal will be placed on your boat to connect it to the trailer and you will be provided with a paper receipt to document your inspection. You may launch on any Wyoming water at any time; just remember to remove the seal before you launch and keep the broken seal and receipt in your possession while on the water.
· If you do not get your boat inspected and a seal attached prior to leaving Wyoming, your watercraft must be inspected each time you enter the state. The inspection is not good for the entire season or trip. If you travel with your boat out of state each day, it must be inspected before you launch each time. An alternative would be to store your watercraft in the state so you do not have to transport it across state lines and need an inspection each time.
- You may receive an AIS inspection and have your boat sealed at a Game and Fish certified location. Certified inspection locations will be posted and updated regularly at wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS. Those wishing to become an AIS inspector must complete a free six-hour training course. A list of training courses can be found at wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS, click the Resources tab at the bottom of the page and look for “Becoming an AIS Inspector”. In southwest Wyoming, courses will be offered April 24 at the Game and Fish Green River regional office (351 Astle) in Green River and on April 25that the Uinta County Public Library (701 Main St.) in Evanston.
- If you are transporting any watercraft (motor boats, rafts, drift boats, kayaks, etc.) you must stop at any open AIS inspection station that you encounter. When inspection stations are open, signs will direct vehicles transporting watercraft to the location. Even if you have a seal on your boat, you must stop in at the check station so the inspector can verify that the seal and your receipt match.
· Private certified inspectors may conduct watercraft inspections on their own watercraft, as well as provide these services to others. It is at the private inspector’s discretion whether to provide these services for free or for a fee. The hours of operation, addresses, and contact information for Wyoming AIS-certified locations will be available at wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS.
Dickson said there are many ways invasive mussels could end up in Wyoming waters. Boaters who practice drain, clean, and dry will help keep invasive species out of Wyoming.
“Invasive mussels can attach to boats as juveniles or adults and larvae can be transported in water in the bilge, livewell, or motor of a boat,” Dickson said. “These larvae can infest new waters if watercraft owners do not drain, clean, and dry their watercraft before launching. We recommend boaters drain all water from your boat including the motor, bilge, live well, and ballast areas. Clean all mud, plants, and debris from your boat. The plants can be invasive and mud and plants can also harbor other AIS. Finally, dry your boat well after every use. We recommend drying it for at least 5 days in the hot summer, 18 days in the spring or fall, or 3 days in the winter when temperatures are freezing.”
“Whenever there are new regulations we work very hard to educate people,” Dickson said. “Expect to have your watercraft inspected so make sure you purchase the AIS decal and drain, clean, and dry your watercraft ahead of time. Also, use the website and the statewide toll free number to help answer any questions you might have. This program is relatively young and we are all learning together in order to prevent these invasive species from entering Wyoming waters.”