Crazyrainbow Fly Fishing, Casper Wyoming

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Here is an article from Wyoming Tribune Eagle about new regulations for AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) inspections for out of state watercraft.

CHEYENNE — Wyoming is requiring more boating inspections this year in an attempt to keep the state’s waterways free of destructive aquatic invasive species.

A new rule mandates that any watercraft entering the state must be inspected before it is launched in a river, stream or lake.

The change is an added provision to the state’s 4-year-old program to prevent non-native species, such as the zebra and quagga mussels, from entering and wreaking havoc on the state’s ecosystem.

Established by law in 2010, the program requires all watercraft using state waters to display aquatic invasive species decals that cost $10 to $30.

The money helps fund inspections that seek to identify invasive mussels that can attach themselves to the boat, or standing water that can contain larvae, diseases or other species.

Previously, these inspections were largely only conducted at selected waterway entry points.

About 38,700 invasive species inspections on 35 waterways in the state were conducted in 2012, according to a state report.

But Beth Bear, invasive species program coordinator for the Game and Fish Department, said the department’s rules did not require all boats to be inspected.

She said that was a concern, particularly for watercraft coming from out of state.

“We’ve been fortunate not to have seen the presence of many of the species that others states have,” she said. “So the threat is mainly from out of state, and this will let us be more effective in controlling that.”

The new requirement applies to any watercraft transported into Wyoming from March 1 through Nov. 30.

Additionally, watercraft that have been in a waterway infested with zebra or quagga mussels within the past 30 days is subject to an inspection, regardless of the time of the year.

Bear said the inspections will take place beginning April 15 at border locations, ports of entry along many of the highways and at boat ramps.

Trained and authorized inspectors will staff the locations seven days a week, and they will be open during most daylight hours.

Although the process could be an inconvenience for some, Bear said it is an important protection for the entire state.

The introduction of an invasive species can disrupt the ecosystem, damage boats or even plug up pipes that municipalities use to get their drinking water.

“Since they are invasive, there is no biological control to keep them in check, so they can just go wild and reproduce very rapidly,” Bear said. “If they get into open waters, our reservoirs are so large and connected, there is no way to (get rid of them) once they get here.”

The inspections resulted in more than 100 decontaminations last year. Four watercraft were found to be carrying dead invasive mussels. But Bear said the state has been fortunate to not find any live aquatic invasive species.

She added that boaters are more aware of the inspection process and the ways they can personally clean and check their watercraft than they were before the program was in place.

The state report also shows that boaters are increasingly following the state’s instruction to drain, clean and dry their boats to prevent the spread of the invasive species.

In 2010, 9 percent of boats had standing water present, compared with 5 percent in 2011 and only 1 percent in 2012, according to the state report.

Jake Sabus, assistant shop manager at Casper’s Ugly Bug Fly Shop, said many of his customers are also more aware of the risks associated with invasive species.

He said most anglers and boaters are also very supportive of the state’s work to prevent their spread.

“I think most everyone I’ve talked to feels good about what they are doing,” he said. “And for people like me who make a living on the (North Platte River), we see that although the regulations are a slight inconvenience, it is a good thing in the long run to be able to keep the river the way it is.”

He said he also supports the added mandatory inspections for boats that come from out of state.

“Before, you could just buy the permit and you were good to go, so I guess it was lacking in that way,” he said. “I think the new regulations and inspections will help.”

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