Boaters reminded of Aquatic Invasive Species requirements
by Wyoming Game & Fish
August 25, 2014
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 created a program, including regulations, to prevent these species from entering the state on watercraft. To fund the program, all watercraft users, with a few exceptions, are required to purchase an AIS decal before boating on Wyoming waters. Exceptions include inflatable boats 10 feet or less, paddleboards or similar water toys. Wyoming Game and Fish personnel report encountering a number of boaters without their AIS decal in recent weeks. The decal can be purchased online on the Game and Fish website at: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/elso/elsoaiswelcome.aspx.
Furthermore, Wyoming state regulations require that any watercraft transported into Wyoming from March 1 through November 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.
"AIS boat inspection stations are being operated at several locations including ports of entry, border locations, and boat ramps," said Chris Wight, Game and Fish AIS supervisor for the Jackson Region. "We try to make everyone’s stop a brief one, but all watercraft must stop as it is required by law."
For people wanting to launch watercraft in northwest Wyoming, there will be permanent inspection stations at the Port of Entry in Alpine near the junction of US-89 and US-26, and at the rest area in Thayne along US-89. There will be additional check stations operating on a rotating basis. These include the Sleeping Indian turnout on US-89 just north of Jackson in Grand Teton National Park as well as major boat ramps on Jackson Lake.
Check stations for Sublette County will include the access road to Fremont Lake as well as the major boat ramps on New Fork, Boulder, Half Moon and Willow Lakes. Information on inspection stations, including location, dates and hours of operation, may be found online at: http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/fishing-1001292.aspx or by calling 1-877-WGFD-AIS.
Wight said most AIS inspection stations will be staffed seven days a week and will be open most daylight hours. For those boaters planning to go out of state after boating on Wyoming waters, and plan to return before a Game and Fish inspection station is open, you may do the following:
• You may stop by any AIS inspection station on your way off the water to have your boat 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 launch on any Wyoming water at any time; just remember to remove the seal before you launch and keep the broken seal and receipt in your possession while on the water.
• If you do not get your boat inspected and a seal attached prior to leaving Wyoming, your watercraft must be inspected each time you enter the state. The inspection is not good for the entire season or trip. If you travel with your boat out of state, it must be inspected before you launch each time. Several other western states have also implemented AIS inspection programs. Many of these state inspections are valid in place of a Wyoming inspection. Inspections performed by Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Idaho and Montana that issue boaters a seal and receipt are accepted in Wyoming.
• 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: http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/fishing-1001292.aspx .
• 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 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.
Wight said there are many ways invasive mussels could end up in Wyoming waters. Boaters who practice "drain, clean, and dry" will help keep invasive species out of Wyoming. "Invasive mussels can attach to boats as juveniles or adults and larvae can be transported in water in the bilge, live well, or motor of a boat," Wight said. "These larvae can infest new waters if watercraft owners do not drain, clean, and dry their watercraft before launching.
It is recommended that all water be drained from boats including the motor, bilge, live well, and ballast areas. In addition, all mud, plants, and debris should be cleaned from boats and trailers. The plants can be invasive and both mud and plants can harbor other AIS.
Finally, all watercraft should be dried after every use. It is recommended to dry for at least 5 days in the hot summer, 18 days in the spring or fall, or 3 days in the winter when temperatures are freezing.
"The bottom line is boaters should always expect to have their watercraft inspected, so make sure to purchase the AIS decal and drain, clean, and dry all watercraft ahead of time," said Wight. "This program is relatively young and we all continue to learn together in order to prevent these invasive species from entering Wyoming waters."
For more information, it is recommended to visit the Game and Fish website at: http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/fishing-1000206.aspx or call the statewide toll free number (877-WGFD-AIS, 877-943-3247) to help answer any questions you might have.