CHEYENNE - In an effort to keep Wyoming waters free from harmful aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as zebra and quagga mussels, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has new regulations to prevent these species from entering the state on watercraft.
New Wyoming regulations require that any 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 to undergo a mandatory inspection by an authorized inspector prior to launching year-round.
Beginning April 15, AIS inspection stations will be operated at ports of entry, border locations, and boat ramps. Information on inspection stations, including locations and dates and hours of operation, may be found online at wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS or by calling 1-877-WGFD-AIS. Most AIS inspection stations will be staffed seven days a week and will be open the majority of daylight hours. If you plan to bring your boat into Wyoming this season, here are a few things you should know:
• 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 Wyoming so you do not have to transport it across state lines requiring 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 alternative 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. Those wishing to become an AIS inspector must complete a free six-hour training course. A list of training courses can be found at wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS (click the Resources tab at the bottom of the page and look for “Becoming an AIS Inspector”). Training locations will be offered this spring at various locations throughout the state.
• If you are transporting any watercraft (motorboats, 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.
Beth Bear, AIS coordinator, said there are many ways invasive mussels could end up in Wyoming waters.
“Invasive 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,” Bear said. “These larvae can infest new waters if watercraft owners do not drain, clean, and dry their watercraft before launching.”
Bear said it is recommended that boaters drain all water from their boat including the motor, bilge, live well, and ballast areas. The boat should be cleaned of all mud, plants, and debris. “The plants can be invasive and mud and plants can also harbor other AIS,” Bear said. “Finally, dry your boat well after every use. We recommend drying it for at least five days in the hot summer, 18 days in the spring or fall, or three days in the winter when temperatures are freezing.”
Boaters should expect to have their watercraft inspected. Buying the Wyoming AIS decal and draining, cleaning, and drying the watercraft ahead of time will speed up the process.
Visit wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS or call the statewide toll-free number (Wyoming only) 1-877-WGFD-AIS (1-877-943-3247) for more information.
(Contact: Beth Bear (307) 745-4046)