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Invasive Species Programs – Searching for Zebra and Quagga Mussels from Hitching a Ride on Your Boat

Victoria/Fraser Valley – Inspection stations are now open throughout the province to prevent harmful zebra and quagga mussels from hitching a ride on boats and entering B.C. waterways.

From now until late October, inspectors with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) will check boats for aquatic invasive species as part of the Province’s Invasive Mussel Defence Program. Inspectors are educating people about the importance of Clean, Drain and Dry – preventative steps that all boaters should practise when moving between lakes and rivers.

“Invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels are a major threat to our ecosystems and infrastructure in British Columbia,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Through our Invasive Mussel Defence Program, we’re taking the necessary steps to protect our waterways today and for the years to come.”

The Invasive Mussel Defence Program has three main components: watercraft inspections, lake monitoring, and public outreach and education. Last year, nearly 30,000 inspections found 16 mussel-fouled boats coming from Ontario, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Manitoba. Anyone transporting a watercraft (sailboats, motorboats, car toppers, kayaks, canoes and paddle boats) in B.C. is required to stop at an open inspection station. Failing to stop can result in a $345 fine.

From yellow starthistle to Paterson’s curse, zebra and quagga mussels are among a list of invasive species that the Province, with support from partners, is working to keep out of B.C. Invasive species can spread rapidly, outcompete or feed on native species, dominate natural and managed areas, and alter ecosystems. Some invasive species, such as poison hemlock and death cap mushroom, are toxic to people, pets and livestock.

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