Province tackles invasive species with inspections and education

B.C. government file photo
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Inspection stations are now open throughout the province to prevent harmful zebra and quagga mussels from hitching rides into B.C. waterways on boats.

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 from now until late October, the province said. Inspectors are also educating people on preventative steps 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.”

The province said the invasive mussel defence program has three main components: watercraft inspections, lake monitoring and public outreach. 

Last year 16 mussel-fouled boats were found coming from Ontario, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Manitoba. The province said it did nearly 30,000 inspections.

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.

Zebra and quagga mussels are among a list of invasive species the province is working to keep out.

“May is invasive species action month, which is a great time for each of us to take action to protect our local lands and waters. While staying close to home, we can each make a difference by checking our backyards, planters and local parks to make sure we do not have any unwanted invasive species,” said Dave Bennett, chair of the Invasive Species council 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.

“Simple actions, such as checking that your tires are clean from seeds and plants before using your bike, trailer or ATV, will help stop the spread. Take the time to be alert, and report any unusual species,” Bennett said.

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