That’s the message from the Wyoming State Game and Fish Department. For many the arrival of warm summer weather means boating, particularly at some of the scenic reservoirs of Wyoming.
Based on direction from the Wyoming legislature, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has implemented emergency regulations to address the aquatic invasive species threat. Under this regulation, all watercraft using Wyoming waters are required to display an Aquatic Invasive Species decal. Costs for the decal under the emergency regulations are $10 for motorized watercraft registered in Wyoming, $30 for motorized watercraft registered in other states, $5 for non-motorized watercraft owned by Wyoming residents and $15 for non-motorized watercraft owned by non-residents. Inflatables 10 feet or less in length are exempt. Decals go on sale on the WGFD website April 15 and at license agents May 17.
Aquatic invasive species like quagga mussels and zebra mussels are small organisms that could have huge impacts for Wyoming’s waters, boaters and anglers. They can ruin fisheries, clog cooling systems in motorboats, foul hulls and ruin equipment. These organisms have not been found in Wyoming yet, but are present in several bordering states like Utah, Colorado and Nebraska.
These species can have widespread impacts on power plants, municipalities, irrigation systems and other water users. They impede water delivery and increase maintenance costs by clogging pipes, pumps, turbines and filtration systems, costs that are all passed on to the user.
Fisheries are destroyed by the presence of these exotic filter-feeding mussels. They remove plankton from the water. Plankton are the primary food source for forage fish and forage fish are the food of sport fisheries. For example, the lake trout population in Lake Ontario has declined by 95 percent in the past 10 years due to a crash in the food chain caused by exotic mussels.