Sniffer dogs are one of the many tools Alberta will use to prevent invasive mussels from entering the province’s waters. Alberta introduced new legislation to help protect waters from invasive species. The Province has now made it mandatory to have a boat inspected before entering waters. Even with the sniffer dogs, and mandatory boat inspection there is still a chance for invasive mussels to enter Alberta’s lakes.
In April, mechanics with Power Merchants Limited of St. Paul and Cold Lake, discovered and stopped invasive mussels on a vessel purchased through auction in the United States. The threat of invasive species entering Alberta’s waters is greatly increased when purchasing a vessel from the U.S. On that note, if a person is planning to go boating in foreign waters the best course of action is to rent a boat when at the location and leave it there, rather than risk bringing back a contaminated vessel.
The invasive mussels, zebra and quagga, are microscopic at their early stages when they latch onto boats. In most cases, you would never know your boat has been contaminated until it is too late. It is important to know the risks before entering foreign waters. Infected lakes have been found in Manitoba (Lake Winnipeg), Utah, Southwest United States and Eastern North America.
If you have already or must use your boat on foreign water, know how to properly clean your vessel. Always flush your boat with warm, soapy water- especially if you have used it on foreign water. Officials estimate mussels would cost Albertans about $75 million every year as they threaten hydropower facilities, waste water plants, irrigation systems, native fisheries, tourism and property values.