SALEM — ODFW technicians recently intercepted and decontaminated two inflatable kayaks at the Ontario Watercraft Inspection station. The kayaks were just in Lake Powell at or near Bullfrog Marina, and the next planned launch site was the Deschutes River.
“Lake Powel is infested with invasive quagga mussels and the kayaks had sand and broken quagga mussel shells from the lake in them. Had they launched in the Deschutes without being decontaminated, mussel tissue from the broken shells would be shed in the water, giving us a positive result for the presence of quagga mussels during environmental DNA sampling,” said Rick Boater, Invasive Species and Wildlife Integrity Supervisor.
eDNA is a useful tool in warning ODFW staff that quagga and zebra mussels may be present, triggering monitoring crews to sample the waterbody and verify results of the eDNA test. If mussels are present, crews can respond quicker and possibly take actions to prevent or slow establishment of the aquatic invasive species.
“Our watercraft inspection sites are critical to keeping these and other aquatic invasive species out of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, and why Clean, Drain, Dry is so important before launching any type of watercraft. This season, we intercepted 14 watercraft containing quagga or zebra mussels,” Boatner said.
So far this year, technicians inspected 26,395 watercraft; 14 of those containing quagga or zebra mussels and 368 with other types of bio-fouling such as Eurasian milfoil were decontaminated.
By law, anyone hauling watercraft of any type whether motorized or not must stop at an open watercraft inspection station for a free inspection which typically takes about 10 minutes. If invasive species are found, the vessel will be decontaminated on site.
Quagga mussels can live around 21 days outside of the water, depending on temperature and humidity. They easily establish in rivers and lakes, causing severe ecological damage to those systems along with economic damage to water systems.
Watercraft inspection stations are located at ports of entry around Oregon with most open from April through early September. The Ashland and Ontario stations, which get the most traffic are open daily year-round from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Invasive species is a Key Conservation Issue for Oregon’s Conservation Strategy.