CHEYENNE - Wyoming’s Aquatic Invasive species (AIS) program is now entering its fifth year. It was enacted in 2010 following legislation designed to establish a program that would prevent the introduction of invasive species, specifically zebra and quagga mussels, to Wyoming waters.
The most common way the mussels have been spread throughout the states which have infested waters is by launching boats in clean waters after the boat has been used in waters where mussels are present. The 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. Wyoming’s AIS program was designed to prevent this from happening.
Since 2010, more than 163,000 inspections of boats have taken place at various Wyoming waters, ports of entryand border locations. In addition to looking for mussels and other invasive species, inspectors are checking boats to verify that water has been drained from the boat and that mud, aquatic plants or other debris is not present. The Game and Fish emphasizes it is important that boats are dried after each use. Recommended drying times for boats only using Wyoming waters are at least five days in the summer, 18 days in the spring or fall, and three days in the winter when temperatures are freezing.
Game and Fish AIS coordinator Beth Bear said the process is especially important for boats entering Wyoming since there are waters in neighboring states where AIS has been found. Of particular concern is Lake Powell on the Utah and Arizona border.
“Many boaters in Wyoming, both residents and nonresidents, also boat in Lake Powell,” Bear said. “When boaters leave Lake Powell to come to Wyoming, they need to call the Game and Fish to schedule an inspection before launching in Wyoming waters. If an inspection station is not open at ports ofentry or border locations, boaters still need to have their boat inspected before launching.”
Inspections can be done year round at all Game and Fish regional offices and a number of other locations throughout the state.
Wyoming regulations require that watercraft transported into Wyoming from March 1 through Nov. 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 toundergo a mandatory inspection by an authorized inspector prior to launching year round. Lake Powell falls into this category along with Lake Mead in Nevada and a number of other waters in surrounding states.
AIS inspection stations at ports of entry, border locations, and boat ramps will be in operation beginning April 26 this year and will continue through Sept. 15. 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. Game and Fish regional office numbers are also on the website or can be obtained by calling 307-777-4600. Most AIS inspection stations will be staffed seven days a week and will be open the majority of daylight hours.
Boaters bringing their watercraft into Wyoming should be aware of the following protocols:
• You must get your watercraft inspected each time you enter Wyoming. 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.
• Once your boat is 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 then launch on any Wyoming water at any time; just remember to remove the seal immediately before you launch and keep the broken seal and receipt in your possession while on the water.
• Plan your trip into Wyoming. Inspection locations at borders will not be open 24 hours a day so you may need to find an alternate location to get your watercraft inspected before launching. 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.
• 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.
To speed up the inspection process, the Game and Fish recommends that boaters purchase the Wyoming AIS decal in advance. Decals can be purchased on the Game and Fish website. Also important is that watercraft are drained, cleaned, and dried prior to inspection. Boaters are urged to use the website and the statewide toll free number to help answer any questions that may arise.
(Contact: Beth Bear (307) 745-4046)