LARAMIE - Wyoming’s fourth boating season following passage of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) legislation in 2010 was deemed a success based on the numbers of boats inspected, AIS decal sales, and overall awareness and cooperation from boaters.
During the April through September season, AIS personnel had conducted over 38,800 watercraft inspections in Wyoming, with most taking place at various ports of entry in the state. In addition, inspections were conducted at more than 26 waters as well as Game and Fish regional offices. Private locations also conducted inspections in 2013, primarily in early spring and fall when Game and Fish check stations are not open. About 20,900 different boaters were contacted during 2013.
Of the watercraft inspected, more than 60 percent involved watercraft registered in states other than Wyoming. According to AIS coordinator Beth Bear, the majority were standard inspections, but there were a greater number of high risk inspections and decontaminations than in previous years.
“We had 1,404 inspections that were high risk and of those 543 resulted in decontaminations,” said Bear. “There were 14 watercraft where we confirmed invasive mussels. On one watercraft the mussels were determined to be living and still potentially viable, so the watercraft was held out of water for several days to allow for desiccation of the mussels before decontamination.”
Ports of entry with the most inspections were I-80 at Evanston with 6,353 inspections; I-25 near Cheyenne with 4,746 inspections; Alpine Port of Entry, (4,563); Thayne Rest Area (1,505); and Laramie Port of Entry, (1,256). Waters where most inspections were conducted include Flaming Gorge Reservoir (over 6,000), Jackson Lake (1,800), Keyhole Reservoir (1,300), and Glendo Reservoir (800). Boaters came from many waters in different states where AIS is prevalent. Over 1,400 inspections were conducted on watercraft that were last used on a water infested with zebra or quagga mussels and the majority of those had been at that infested water within the last month.
Inspections at individual waters were not as prevalent in 2013 due to the emphasis on inspecting watercraft entering the state. That makes it particularly important for resident boaters to always remember to Drain Clean and Dry their watercraft prior to boating each and every time.
“As with last year, boaters were very cooperative when getting their watercraft inspected,” said Bear. “Overall, things went very smoothly and even during the busy holiday boating weekends, delays were minimal,” Bear continued. “Boaters understand that although the inspection process may delay them a few minutes, it is well worth it to keep Wyoming’s waters free from invasive species so that everyone can enjoy boating and angling into the future. More boaters are arriving at inspection stations and have followed the Drain, Clean and Dry process which greatly reduces the time needed for inspection.”
All watercraft, including non-motorized craft such as kayaks and canoes, must have an AIS decal before launching in Wyoming. Purchase of the required AIS decal went well with more than 42,500 decals issued.
“Boaters seem to appreciate the fact that we now have a 3-year decal for Wyoming registered watercraft so they don’t have to worry about getting a new decal each year,” Bear said.
All decal revenue goes directly towards funding the AIS program. Game and Fish license fees are not used on the AIS program which is solely funded by decal fees and legislative appropriations. Game and Fish watercraft check stations are now closed for the season. The mandatory inspection requirement is in effect from April through November each year. At all other times, an inspection is required if a watercraft has been on an infested water. Boaters can find information on alternate inspection locations including Game and Fish offices and private locations at: wgfd.wyo.gov. Boaters are encouraged to follow the Drain, Clean, and Dry protocol each and every time they launch, even when an inspection station is not present at the water. Additional information on AISis on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS.
(Contact: Beth Bear (307) 745-4046)