ONTARIO, Ore. - A 41-foot yacht from Tennessee with Zebra mussels attached was intercepted at the Ontario Watercraft Inspection station last week, the Oregon Department of Fish and Widlife reported Monday.
The boat came from Harrison Bay, Tennessee which is infested with the invasive mussels.
Earlier this spring, standing water was found on a boat from Quagga mussel infested Lake Havasu, Arizona. That boat was inspected and decontaminated at the Ashland inspection station.
“Standing water may not sound like a big problem, but when it comes from a water body infested with Quagga or Zebra mussels, it spells trouble,” said Rick Boatner, ODFW’s Invasive Species Wildlife Integrity Coordinator.
Boatner explained this standing water can have microscopic veliger – the larva stage – of mussels that can live several days in water trapped in a bilge or live well. This stresses the importance of draining and drying all standing water from your watercraft. An adult mussel can live on a boat up to 30 days depending on humidity and temperature.
All watercraft entering Oregon must stop at an open watercraft inspection station. This includes non-motorized boats such as stand up paddle boards, surfboards, kayaks and canoes. Stations are located in Ashland, Gold Beach, Klamath Falls, Lakeview, and Ontario. Failure to stop could result in a $110 fine.
In addition to Quagga and Zebra mussels, inspectors look for aquatic plants and New Zealand mudsnails. Boat owners always need to practice ‘Clean, Drain, Dry’ before launching their boat:
Clean the boat completely, pulling off any plant material, animals or mud.
Drain – completely drain any areas that could hold standing water by pulling all drain plugs and soaking up any standing water.
Dry – allow the boat to dry before launching again.
Anglers should also clean and disinfect their waders, boots and fishing gear to prevent spreading aquatic invasive species such as tiny New Zealand mudsnails and aquatic invasive plants.
Invasive species is one of the Key Conservation Issues identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as a threat to Oregon’s native fish, wildlife, and their habitats. Invasives can also potentially cause millions in damage to Oregon’s systems.