TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) announced Tuesday that they had confirmed the presence of quagga mussel larvae in the Snake River, in Centennial Waterfront Park, near Twin Falls.
“Multiple samples of quagga mussel at larval life stages have been found in the Twin Falls area by ISDA’s early detection monitoring program,” ISDA said in a press release. “The findings mark the first time a rapid response plan has been put into action for quagga mussels in Idaho.”
Quagga and zebra mussels pose a major threat to water systems, native species, agriculture and utilities and are considered aquatic invasive species (AIS).
ISDA’s rapid response plan reportedly includes notifying impacted entities, implementing containment measures, conducting delimiting surveys and evaluating for potential treatment options.
“These invasive pests will clog pipes that deliver water for drinking, energy, agriculture and recreation,” Governor Brad Little said. “This is a very high priority for Idaho and for me, given the gravity of the risk. If we are not successful, an unchecked spread – which we are doing all we can to stop – has the potential to cost Idaho hundreds of millions of actual and indirect costs. Thankfully, we caught the mussels early on and have already started a robust response to get these mussels OUT of our waters. We need everyone to support these efforts.”
ISDA says the waterfront area is closed to the public to contain the spread and ISDA boats will be in the water performing delimiting surveys to determine the physical range of the impacted area.
Wyoming is one of only a few states that remains free of quagga and zebra mussels. In May alone, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department intercepted five watercraft containing invasive mussels coming into the state at AIS watercraft inspection stations.
In Wyoming, it’s a state law that all boaters must stop when coming upon an AIS inspection station — even if they stopped at one prior or do not intend to launch in Wyoming. This applies to anyone with a watercraft, which includes but is not limited to kayaks, canoes, rafts and paddleboards.
ISDA watercraft inspection stations are also currently operating across the state of Idaho and it is mandatory for watercraft users to stop.