JACKSON, Wyo. — Lakes, reservoirs, and ponds provide one safe place to get away from it all for a day and practice social distancing. Remember, though, you could be a carrier and not even know it. And that has the Wyoming Game and Fish Department concerned.
It’s not COVID-19 that has Game and Fish asking boaters to stop at checkpoints, it’s what might be attached to your boat. Aquatic invasive species (AIS) inspection stations are resuming seasonal operations across the state. All boaters must stop when coming upon an AIS inspection station, and should expect new protocols at check stations due to state guidelines related to COVID-19.
“AIS check stations will be open and operational,” said Josh Leonard, AIS coordinator. “Inspectors will be taking extra efforts to social distance, so please give them space for their health and yours as they do their jobs.”
Nonresident boaters should be aware that the State of Wyoming has a 14-day quarantine directive for people entering Wyoming through the end of April. Nonresidents are advised to stay home at this time unless they can observe the quarantine and follow all local and state social distancing orders.
AIS watercraft inspections are crucial defense to keep Wyoming waters free from aquatic invasive species, like zebra and quagga mussels, but the best defense is vigilance by the boating public. Watercraft owners can avoid the extra time by transporting a watercraft that is Clean, Drained and Dry.
Boaters have many AIS prevention responsibilities. Boaters should remember that:
- Along with registration of watercraft, watercraft used on Wyoming waters must have an AIS Decal. A Wyoming AIS decal must be displayed on all watercraft (including rentals) using Wyoming waters with the exception of non-motorized inflatable watercraft 10-feet in length or less. While these watercraft are not required to have a decal, they still require an inspection when coming from out of state.
- Boats must stop at established check stations each time a boater passes a check station. Check stations are established at ports of entry, border locations, or at boat ramps and are set-up to ensure watercraft are Clean, Drain, and Dry before launching. Inspections are also available at Game and Fish regional offices but you must call ahead.
- Any watercraft transported into Wyoming from March 1 through November 30 must undergo a mandatory inspection by an authorized inspector prior to launching on any Wyoming waterway. If the watercraft was used on a water suspect or positive for invasive mussels in the last 30 days, it must be inspected prior to launching year round and may require decontamination.
- If boaters entering Wyoming do not encounter an open AIS check station on their route of travel, it is the boater’s responsibility to seek out an inspection before launching on any Wyoming waterway. Inspection locations may be found on the AIS website.
- A watercraft may launch without further inspection if the watercraft has a properly affixed seal applied by an authorized inspector and is accompanied by a valid seal receipt during transit. The person transporting the watercraft may remove the seal immediately prior to launching on the destination water and must retain the seal and valid seal receipt while on the water.
- Even if a watercraft has been previously inspected and has a valid seal and seal receipt, boaters are still required to stop at any open AIS check station. Having the properly affixed seal and valid seal receipt will expedite the inspection process.
The costs of AIS infestation are great to the sportsperson and the local community, especially when it comes to mussels.
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