July 2021 - 2

We won't stop fighting
against AIS
By Brian Nesvik
f you drive a Wyoming interstate this
summer, it's likely you'll see a flashing sign
with a single message: All boaters entering
Wyoming need an AIS inspection. This
year, like the past decade, the Wyoming Game
and Fish Department has set up watercraft check
stations at key points across the state to look for
aquatic invasive species.
Prevention is key when it comes to halting the creep of AIS
across the West. Wyoming is one of the few states that does not have
zebra or quagga mussels in any of its natural waters, and we want to
keep it that way. Check stations, along with help from boaters, are
the front-line against preventing an infestation of zebra or quagga
mussels entering our waters - and stopping at one is the most
important step boaters can take to help. Secondly, boaters can help
by ensuring they pull their plug, drain their motors and live wells
and eliminate any sources of standing water after they pull their
boats out of the water.
But as much as we invest in prevention, we know the state must be
prepared in case mussels do appear in a place like Glendo or Alcova
reservoirs. That is why Game and Fish fisheries managers have spent
thousands of hours over the last two years crafting rapid response
plans. These plans detail how Game and Fish would react if testing
- or the naked eye - showed a water was positive for mussels.
Game and Fish developed rapid response plans for 23 waters
in Wyoming. We can't write a plan for each water in the state, so
these locations were prioritized through a ranking system. Game
and Fish assessed 71 waters for the likely risk of mussels based on
environmental variables - how possible it would be for mussels to
survive, grow and reproduce - and the popularity of locations for
boating. Of those, 23 locations rose to either a high or moderate
risk of an infestation.
If you have a boat or a business dependent on recreation you need
to know how these plans, if implemented, will impact you. All the
rapid response plans are on the Game and Fish website, along with
short summaries to help you understand the direct impacts. Rapid
2 | July 2021
Game and Fish watercraft inspector Rich Mogart speaks with a boater while completing an AIS
inspection. (Photo by Chris Martin/WGFD)
response plans shift emphasis on AIS management to containing
the mussels while preventing further spread in Wyoming and across
the West. Depending on the water, if AIS is detected there could be
significant changes for you. Some examples Game and Fish could
implement include closing shore launching and conducting prelaunch
inspections and post-boating decontaminations.
I want to be clear: rapid response plans are the last defense against
AIS. We don't want to see these plans put to use or be forced to
implement the changes we outlined for boaters. But it's important
the public know how serious we take this threat and how devastating
a mussel infestation would be for recreation, agriculture, tourism,
municipalities and our natural resources. Game and Fish takes that
seriously and is doing everything possible to protect Wyoming.
The effort that went into researching and writing each was
phenomenal, and I am grateful for the expertise and dedication of
our AIS experts and fisheries biologists who took years to thoughtfully
develop plans, implement feedback from the public and finalize
them with the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. I also am
deeply appreciative of boaters who stop dutifully at check stations
and take a little time out of their day to help with this effort. Please
continue to clean, drain, dry your watercraft. The extra time you
take is valued, and makes a difference in protecting our state.
Learn what you can do to stop the spread of AIS and read the rapid
response plans at: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Fishing-and-Boating/
https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Fishing-and-Boating/Aquatic-Invasive-Species-Prevention https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Fishing-and-Boating/Aquatic-Invasive-Species-Prevention

July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of July 2021

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July 2021 - 2
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