CHEYENNE - This year, boaters who have their watercraft inspected for aquatic invasive species by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) will be eligible to enter a raffle.
Prizes, which are fully funded by sponsors, include a PAC 1400 Pro Series Pontoon Boat (more than a $5,500 value), a guided walleye or trout float fishing trip, two nights stay for up to twelve people at the Tensleep Nature Preserve, or a Vortex Diamondback 20-60x80 Angled Spotting Scope.
Lead sponsor, The Nature Conservancy Wyoming, as well as Two Dogs Guide Service, Vortex Optics, and Bass Pro Shop, have partnered with the WGFD to thank boaters for completing boat inspections and preventing the spread of invasive species into Wyoming waters.
Boaters will be provided a raffle entry each time their boat is inspected at a WGFD check station. Prize winners will be randomly selected on November 30.
“Invasive species are one of the most serious threats to natural aquatic ecosystems,” said Andrea Erickson Quiroz, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming. “Boaters are the front lines of defense in keeping invasive species out of Wyoming. The Nature Conservancy is supporting the raffle to recognize the contributions of boaters to maintaining Wyoming’s world class fisheries by having their boats inspected.”
Zebra and quagga mussels represent two species of great concern. Both species remove substantial amounts of food and nutrients from the water, competing with fish. Both species colonize rapidly on hard surfaces. These mussels become so abundant that they clog pipes and screens and reduce pumping capacity for power plants, water treatment facilities and irrigation systems, resulting in serious financial loss. Annually, these mussels cause about $1 billion in damages to water infrastructure and related industries in the U.S. Zebra and quagga mussels have been detected in neighboring states including Colorado, Nebraska and Utah.
Once established, removing zebra and aquatic mussels from aquatic systems is nearly impossible, and treatment options are limited. The most effective conservation measure is prevention.
Any watercraft transported into Wyoming from March 1 through November 30 are required to undergo a mandatory inspection prior to launching. (Year-round, any watercraft that has been in waters infested with zebra or quagga mussels during the previous 30 days must be inspected prior to launching.) Boaters may get inspected at check stations at ports of entry, border locations, boat ramps and WGFD offices. In addition almost all watercraft are required to have an AIS decal prior to launching. AIS decals can be purchased at license agents, online, using an electronic device (smart phone, tablet), or at Game and Fish regional offices. When purchased at agents or online, the boater receives a receipt that the decal has been purchased which can then be shown to inspectors and Game and Fish officers until the actual decal is received in the mail. Decal fees for motorized watercraft are $10 for residents and $30 for nonresidents. Fees for non-motorized watercraft are $5 resident and $15 nonresident. Non-motorized inflatable watercraft 10-feet in length or less are exempt from the AIS decal requirement. “Ensuring the high quality of fishing and recreation in Wyoming is dependent upon cooperation,” said Beth Bear, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator. “The AIS Boater Appreciation Raffle is an excellent example of teamwork between boaters, agencies, non-governmental organizations, and outdoor retailers to address a critical resource issue.”
For more information about aquatic invasive species visit wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS.
(Contact: WGFD (307) 777-4600)