The Roundup -

Watercraft Inspection Season Wrap-up


Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks checked more than 36,000 private and commercial boats this season under a state law that requires all motorists hauling watercraft—from trailers with motorboats or inflatable rafts to canoes and kayaks perched atop cars and pick-up trucks—to stop at inspection stations.

FWP operated inspection stations and roving crews from late May to early September at well-marked roadway locations and at boating and fishing events throughout the state to help curb the risk of aquatic invasive species from attaining a foothold in Montana waters. The annual education and enforcement effort, which this year included multiple chances to win prizes from local sponsors, checked about 28,500 watercrafts being hauled by residents and 7,500 by nonresidents.

The most likely aquatic invasive species threats to Montana waters include quagga and zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, and VHS virus. They are easily transported from water to water by popular recreational activities like boating and angling.

This year, a total of five watercrafts were found to have been fouled by zebra or quagga mussels, 53 found with other AIS contaminants and 176 more contained standing water or aquatic vegetation.

In past years, more than 30 percent of all motorists hauling watercraft were not stopping for inspection, and some of those boats were likely harboring AIS. This year, nearly 40 Montana merchants and business, including fishing shops, outfitters, guides and outdoor shops, donated 70 prizes valued at $6,000 in a concerted effort to entice motorists hauling boats to stop for inspection. More than 8,400 boaters entered the drawing and nearly 8,000 more completed FWP’s feedback survey. “Preliminary results indicate that there were fewer drive-by’s this year likely due to the raffle and other efforts,” said Tom Boos, FWP’s AIS coordinator in Helena. “The success of the raffle was overwhelming and I look forward to conducting it again next year and further increase compliance rates.” Winners included 57 Montanans and 13 nonresidents, including two from Alberta, Canada. Motorists who stopped had their equipment inspected—and cleaned if needed—and received information on how to prevent the spread of AIS in Montana.

State law requires private motorists and outfitters and guides hauling watercraft—including motorboats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes, rowboats, rafts, jet skis and even small kick boats popular among some anglers—to always stop at AIS watercraft inspection stations for a brief interview and equipment check. Most inspections take fewer than five minutes but failure to stop could lead to a $135 fine. The penalty for knowingly introducing AIS into Montana can be a felony, with penalties up to $5,000 and two years in jail.

For more on AIS, and for a full list of prize sponsors, visit FWP’s website at, then click “Aquatic Invasive Species.”


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