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New pass designed to prevent spread of invasive aquatic species

by The Western News
| March 10, 2020 8:43 AM

Montana’s quest to prevent the infestation of lakes and streams by zebra and quagga mussels and other aquatic invasive species features new provisions for visiting nonresident boaters and anglers. The 2019 Montana Legislature reduced the fee nonresident anglers pay for the Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass. Nonresident anglers will pay $7.50 instead of the $15 fee charged last year. Also, nonresident youth under the age of 16 will be exempt from purchasing the Angler AIS Prevention Pass. The AIS Prevention Pass fee is included in the purchase of fishing licenses. New this year, nonresidents launching watercraft in Montana must purchase a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass.

[]The fee for motorboats is $30 and applies to all motorized watercraft registered in another state or country.

[]The fee for non-motorized watercraft is $10 and applies to rafts, kayaks, drift boats, catamarans and sailboats that nonresidents bring into Montana.

[]The Vessel AIS Prevention Pass expires Dec. 31 and is not transferrable between vessels.

Nonresidents can purchase the Vessel AIS Prevention Pass online or at any office of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Proof of purchase is an electronic or paper receipt. Nonresidents passing through Montana and not launching a watercraft are not required to purchase the pass.

Boaters are reminded that all watercraft coming into Montana from out of state must be inspected prior to launching. Anyone transporting watercraft must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations they encounter.

Montana’s first watercraft inspection stations opened in February in Kalispell and Ravalli with more inspection stations opening later this spring. Watercraft can also be inspected at any FWP regional office. Watercraft inspection stations are Montana’s first line of defense to prevent the movement of aquatic invasive species, agency officials said.

FWP has been working since 2005 to try to prevent the introduction of invasive mussels. The department’s interventions include inspecting watercraft, early detection monitoring and education.

These efforts intensified after larvae of invasive mussels were detected at Tiber Reservoir, with a suspected detection at Canyon Ferry Reservoir. So far, no adult mussels have been found and no more larvae have been detected.

Zebra and quagga mussels are invasive freshwater mussels discovered in the Great Lakes in the mid-1980s. Infestations can cause the extinction of many native mollusks, change the structure of food webs and contribute to the collapse of valuable sport fish populations, experts say.

To find a watercraft inspection station or to learn more, go to or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.