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Invasive Water Species Found On Boat In Bonneville County

A highly invasive water species is found on a boat destined for Jackson Lake.

If not for a Department of Agriculture inspection, some extremely dangerous mussels could have destroyed an eastern Idaho ecosystem. The inspector spotted an Illinois-registered boat at a shop in Bonneville County. The new owner had purchased it online, and was getting new canvas put onto a shade over the captain’s chair.

“We found the mussels up in this part only,” said Bonneville County Weed Superintendent Jeffery Pettingill, as he gestured to a photograph of the boat’s motor-area.

Pettingill said dozens of extremely invasive Quagga Mussels were found on board. The tiny shellfish are extremely invasive and can destroy entire ecosystems.

“The big difference between these Zebra Quagga Mussels and our native species mussels and clams that we have is that they have feelers or tentacles that come out,” said Fremont County Weed Superintendent Bryce Fowler.

Fowler said those tentacles will grasp onto anything they can. The mussels will cluster together and clog water pipes, drains and irrigation lines. But, Fowler said, that’s not the only danger.

Just one of the mussels, about the size of a dime, can filter the nutrients out of a liter of water a day. That leaves nothing for fish to eat or for plants to grow — it can slowly kill an entire environment.

The boat quarantined Wednesday received a full power wash at the Bonneville County Weed Control facility. The boat was last afloat on Lake Michigan, and that’s where the Quagga mussels are believed to have hitched a ride.

The boat’s owner is from Wyoming, and the vessel will be returned to Precision Boats in Idaho Falls for storage.

Pettingill said in 2011, 44,000 boats were inspected in Idaho. Invasive species were only found on 24.

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