Wyoming remains free of invasive mussels after challenging year

WYOMING —  After a challenging year protecting the state from aquatic invasive species, Wyoming remains free of invasive mussels.

In the 2021 summer season, Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s AIS watercraft check stations inspected more than 68,000 boats across the state. Game and Fish personnel saw high numbers of live mussels, decontaminated 924 boats and found live mussels on two during the summer months.

This year marks the highest number of decontaminations ever conducted since the AIS program was established in 2010 by the State Legislature and the first time live mussels were found on boats at Wyoming’s check stations.

Two rangers in Grand Teton National Park conduct an AIS inspection in June 2020. Photo: J. Bonney // NPS

“Checkstations were extremely busy in 2020, and we stayed that way in 2021,” said Josh Leonard, Game and Fish AIS coordinator. “It was another record-breaking year, but this time it was because we intercepted more risk.”

AIS check stations serve as the first line of defense against invasives entering the state or being spread between Wyoming’s waters. Invasives range from plants like curly pondweed, which are present in Wyoming, to species that the state has managed to keep out, like Asian carp and zebra or quagga mussels. 

Decontaminations in 2021 were more than double the 480 conducted in 2019. In 2021, check station inspectors found mussels on 54 boats; in 2019 only 19 boats were intercepted with mussels. 

About The Author

Buckrail @ Caroline

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter. She enjoys reading non-fiction, skiing, hiking, and playing piano in her downtime. Her favorite aspect about living in Jackson is the genuine admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.

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