After the Canyon Ferry and the Tiber reservoirs had tested positive for the presence of invasive mussels, detection dogs alerted biologists as well. However, the investigation continues because no adult specimens have been discovered yet.
Although the Tiber water samples tested positive for the zebra or quagga mussel larvae, the Canyon Ferry test was inconclusive. According to the Fish and Wildlife officials, this project, which has begun in 2010, aims to prevent the spread of invasive mussels in Montana.
This aquatic parasite has previously affected the Great Lakes and Midwest areas by clogging pipes, thus interrupting the water flow. The hydropower infrastructure is crucial for the local economy.
In addition, this water is used for agriculture too. The invasive mussels usually feed on microorganisms which represents the main food source for some species of fish.
Wildlife officials and biologists are vigilant because a mussel invasion would take its toll on the local economy and the aquatic wildlife.
According to Eileen Ryce, FWP administrator of the fisheries division, dogs detected the presence of mussel larvae last week, but after extensive searches, the biologists couldn’t find any adult mussels.
She underlines that it is the first time when the agency uses detection dogs to locate an invasive species. The mussel presence has been detected at some Tiber docks, so the officials will have to dismantle them to conduct a comprehensive investigation.
Ryce adds that the invasive mussels are very small. More precisely, they are not bigger than sesame seeds when they attach to a boat or a dock. Dive teams will be sent in search for mussel larvae in the following days.
Concerning the mussel threat in other regions, Glacier National Park closed the waters to boats last week after some water samples tested positive for the invasive larvae. Also, the Blackfeet Tribe closed its waters on Monday.
According to Dona Rutherford, Blackfeet FWD Director, this is a precautionary step to prevent the mussels from invading the waters. On the other hand, state-managed waters won’t be closed yet.
Ryce hopes that freezing temperatures during winter months will kill all the remaining larvae which haven’t been detected. The invasive mussels can easily spread from one boat to another at a fast rate. Therefore, boat inspections will be conducted as well.
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