ONTARIO - Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife technicians discovered quagga mussels on a pontoon houseboat on May 20 at the Ontario boat inspection station in Eastern Oregon. It is the first boat of the 2014 inspection season found to be infested with the invasive mussels.
The driver hauling the Texas watercraft bypassed the Ontario check station and was stopped by a Malheur County Sheriff, according to a press release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Motorists hauling boats in Oregon are required to stop at boat inspection stations to have their watercraft inspected for aquatic invasive species under a 2011 Oregon law. Failure to stop at an inspection station could result in a $110 fine.
The boat had a large number of the juvenile life stage quagga mussels on the hull and outboard motor. It was decontaminated at the inspection station with a high-pressure hot water cleaning.
"Boat owners have to take their responsibility to launch a clean boat seriously," said Rick Boatner, ODFW Invasive Species Coordinator. "If we are going to keep mussels out of the state, all boaters who use the state's waters have to do their part."
According to the Columbia Basin Bulletin, the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, is the "only place on the continent" unaffected by the quagga and zebra mussel invasions that have devastated ecosystems and local economies. The U.S. Geological Survey has a quagga and zebra mussel distribution map on its website.
In addition to quagga and zebra mussels, inspectors are looking for aquatic plants and New Zealand mudsnails.