Montana Aquatic Invasive Species Update: January 2024

2023 AIS Summary

Friends and colleagues,

Montana is gearing up for another busy season addressing the threat of aquatic invasive species.  2024 brings new threats with quagga mussels detected in Idaho and zebra mussels moving up the Missouri River into Lake Oahe. Please contact us if you would like to become more involved in AIS prevention, early detection or outreach this season. 

New in 2024:

  • FWP is contracting with the Flathead Conservation District to help educate boaters on Clean Drain Dry and ensure watercraft are inspected before launching on Flathead Lake.
  • FWP is contracting with Missoula County and the Flathead Biological station to expand AIS early detection surveillance on Flathead Lake and other high risk waterbodies.
  • Extended watercraft inspection hours and season are planned at high risk locations.
  • Expanded partner and public involvement is planned for AIS early detection survey through trainings and workshops state-wide.

Watercraft Inspection:

  • Watercraft inspection stations are scheduled to begin operation on March 9th. See attachment for more information on anticipated watercraft inspection opening dates.
  • FWP is hiring watercraft inspectors:   Watercraft InspectorWatercraft Inspector Site Lead

  • Watercraft inspection locations can be found Here.
  • The 2023 Watercraft Inspection End of Year Report is now complete.  It is currently undergoing review and will be posted on the website in the coming weeks. Information from the report is included in the attachment.
    • 130,603 watercraft were inspected in Montana during the 2023 season.
    • 53 mussel fouled vessels were intercepted.  661 were intercepted with aquatic weeds.
    • 41,000 high risk boats were inspected.
  • Partners continue to play an integral role in AIS prevention effort in the state. Partners conduct over 70% of the watercraft inspections in Montana.
  • If you are interested in attending a watercraft inspection training, contact Zach Crete at

Early Detection Survey:

  • The 2023 Early Detection End of Year Report is now complete. It is currently undergoing review and will be posted on the website in the coming weeks. Information from the report is included in the attachment.
  • All Mussel veliger early detection microscopy samples from 2023 have been analyzed by the FWP AIS Early Detection Laboratory.
    • 3,143 AIS early detection microscopy samples from Montana waters were analyzed this season.
    • 471 samples from other Missouri River basin states were analyzed.
    • 400 Montana environmental DNA (eDNA) samples were analyzed for the presence of invasive mussels.
    • No evidence of invasive mussels was detected in 2023 samples from Montana waters.
  • New AIS detections in 2023 included:
    • New Zealand mudsnails in Silver Bow Creek (Warm Springs) and the Roe River (Great Falls).
    • Mud Bithynia snail in Blanchard Lake (Whitefish)
    • Curlyleaf pondweed in Horte Res (Ronan), The Lakes subdivision pond (Bozeman) and Missoula Kids Pond (Missoula).
  • No Eurasian watermilfoil was detected in eradication projects at Beaver Lake (Whitefish) and Nilan Reservoir (Augusta).  Follow up surveys will be conducted this season.
  • No invasive corbicula clams were detected in Lake Elmo (Billings) following eradication treatment in 2022.  Follow up surveys will continue this season.
  • If you are interested in attending an AIS early detection survey training, please contact Craig McLane

Outreach and Education:

  • FWP continues a nation-wide marketing campaign to ensure boats are clean, drained, dry and inspected before launching in Montana waters.
  • We are fortunate to have AmeriCorps member Sophiane Nacer returning for a second year to support AIS education and outreach state-wide. Keep an eye out for new AIS social media posts on the FWP Facebook page.
  • AIS in Commerce Webinar:  February 20, 11:00.  More info HereRegister Here


  • Western Montana Conservation Commission Meeting:  February 7-8th , Polson.  WMCC
  • Western AIS Short Course:  March 5-6th, Missoula. Register Here
  • Columbia River Basin Team Meeting:  June 4-5th, Missoula.  Location TBA.  Columbia Basin Team Info
  • Western Regional Panel for Aquatic Invasive Species:  October 23-24th, Grand Junction, CO. More info TBA.  WRP Info
  • North American Invasive Species Management Association: September 30 – October 3rd, Missoula. More NAISMA Info

AIS News:

Thomas Woolf | Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau Chief

Fisheries Division

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Office: (406) 444-1230 | Cell: (406) 438-5905

Zebra Mussels are discovered in Lake Oahe this past week. – 1/4/2024

This doesn’t come as a complete surprise as the Aquatic Invasion Species (AIS) has been detected in Lake Pactola and is considered infested with Zebra Mussels.  Walleyes Unlimited of Montana is working with the Montana FWP and other organizations to combat the introduction of these into any Montana waters.  We take a strong stance of promoting Clean, Drain, Dry and we all need to be vigilant in stressing this with any and all watercraft coming in from other area and now in particular the Dakotas.  

You will be seeing and hearing a strong campaign in the very near future. 

Thanks for all of your efforts and working together will be essential to keep these extremely damaging things out of our waters. 


For information on How to clean your boat, Locations of Watercraft Inspections and how to become a “Certified Boater” and other news, click on the following FWP link

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials said that aquatic invasive species inspection stations and roving inspection crews are in operation at key border crossing sites, along major highways, and on heavily used water bodies.

The most likely aquatic invasive species threats to Montana waters include quagga and zebra mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, and Eurasian watermilfoil.

Plan ahead and get your watercraft inspected prior to launching if:

  • You are coming into Montana from out-of-state.
  • You are traveling west over the Continental Divide into western Montana (the Columbia River Basin).
  • You are coming off Tiber or Canyon Ferry Reservoirs.
    • Certified boaters must still follow the terms of their contract; they are required to get an inspection if they are travelling to another waterbody.
    • Certified boater ramps will remain open ONLY to certified boaters.
  • You are launching anywhere within the Flathead Basin and your watercraft last launched on waters outside of the Flathead Basin.

Station Name Start Date Close Date Hours of Operation
Anaconda 4/6/19 9/29/19 6:30AM – 8:30PM
Apgar (Lake McDonald) 5/11/19 10/31/19 8:00AM – 4:00PM
Bighorn Canyon NRA TBD TBD TBD
Birch Creek TBD TBD TBD
Browning 4/3/19 TBD 7:30AM – 7:30PM
Canyon Ferry Goosebay 5/25/19 9/15/19 8:30AM – 8:30PM Mon-Thurs
7:00AM – 8:30PM Fri-Sun
Canyon Ferry Hellgate 5/18/19 9/15/19 8:30AM – 8:30PM Mon-Thurs
7:00AM – 8:30PM Fri-Sun
Canyon Ferry North 5/11/19 10/13/19 8:30AM – 8:30PM Mon-Thurs
7:00AM – 8:30PM Fri-Sun
Canyon Ferry Silos 5/11/19 10/13/19 8:30AM – 8:30PM Mon-Thurs
7:00AM – 8:30PM Fri-Sun
Clearwater Junction 4/11/19 TBD 8:00AM – 6:00PM
CSKT Office Visit for more info
Dillon 4/6/19 9/22/19 6:45AM – 8:15PM 
Eureka 5/25/19 9/15/19 8:00AM – 8:00PM
Flowing Wells 5/19/19 9/29/19 TBD
Fort Peck Roving 5/17/19 9/3/19 TBD
Fresno 5/17/19 9/3/19

11:00AM – 8:00PM Thurs-Fri
6:00AM – 3:00PM Sat-Sun
FWP Kalispell (weekends/holidays) 3/13/19 10/15/19 9:00AM – 5:00PM Sat-Sun
FWP Regional Offices 1/2/19 12/31/19 8:00AM – 5:00PM Mon-Fri
Glacier National Park Visit for more info
Hardin 4/19/19 9/29/19 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Helena US-12 5/18/19 10/13/19 6:00AM – 9:00PM
Nashua 5/19/19 9/29/19 TBD
Plains 5/11/19 9/15/19 7:00AM – 7:00PM
Ravalli 3/15/19 10/15/19 7:00AM – 7:00PM
St. Regis 5/18/19 9/15/19 6:00AM – 10:00PM
Sula 5/18/19 9/15/19 8:00AM – 6:00PM
Tiber Marina 5/11/19 10/13/19 9:30AM – 8:30PM Mon-Thurs
9:00AM – 9:00PM Fri-Sun
Tiber VFW Campground 5/11/19 10/13/19 6:00AM – 9:00PM 
Tiber Willow Creek 5/25/19 9/6/19 6:00AM – 9:00PM 
Tongue River 5/25/19 9/29/19 7:00AM – 5:00PM Thurs-Sun
Troy 5/25/19 9/15/19 6:00AM – 10:00PM
Whitefish Lake City Beach 5/1/19 9/30/19 6:00AM – 9:00PM
Whitefish Lake City Beach Prevention/Decon 
(Overflow Parking Lot)
5/1/19 9/30/19 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Whitefish Lake State Park 5/1/19 9/30/19 7:00AM – 10:00PM
Wibaux 4/16/19 9/29/19 7:00AM – 7:00PM

What you can do to help

  • Ensure that you are not part of the problem
    • Drain all water from your watercraft before leaving the immediate area of the lake
    • Remove all weeds, mud or attached organisms from the boat and trailer
    • Always dispose unwanted bait in the trash, never bring live bait into Montana without authorization
    • Wash the exterior of your boat and trailer, hot-high pressure water is best
    • Rinse and clean live wells, use hot soapy water or a weak bleach solution
    • Allow boat to dry in between trips to different water bodies; ideally for 5 days
    • Never move live fish, aquatic invertebrates or plants from one body of water to another without Fish, Wildlife and Parks authorization.  It is unlawful to release any live aquarium or bait fish
  • Report any potential sightings of zebra or quagga mussels (see description below) immediately to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks ANS Coordinator (406-444-2449), if possible, collect a sample, place it in a jar or zip-loc bag and note specific location and date
  • Spread the word; tell your neighbors and friends about the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species
  • For further questions call the ANS Coordinator at 406-444-2449

How to identify Quagga or Zebra mussels

  • Quagga and zebra mussels are similar in appearance
  • Adults look like a small clam with a D-shaped shell
  • Usually have alternating dark and light stripes, but these may not be present
  • About the size of your fingernail, although can be up to 1-2 inches
  • Small juveniles, which have just recently attached to a surface, look like black pepper and feel like sandpaper.

Quagga mussel on left, Zebra mussel on right, photo from USGS.

For more information, click on the following link


Walleye Calendar

  1. Dave Sedlock

    Canyon Ferry: Action was a bit slow over the weekend. Rainbows and walleye are being caught out from the Silos…