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B.C. acts swiftly to deal with invasive species threat

Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

For Immediate Release 2012FOR0115-001035 – July 16, 2012

VICTORIA – The B.C. government worked closely with the Invasive Species Council of B.C., provincial and federal agencies, and international partners to respond decisively to a threat of invasive zebra and quagga mussels at Shuswap Lake this month.

The presence of quagga mussels was confirmed on a power boat that was transported to B.C. from Arizona. With the support of the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, regional conservation officers and federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans officers removed the boat from Shuswap Lake on July 3.

Quagga and zebra mussels (shown) pose threat to BC

This action was taken to limit the likelihood of mussels becoming established in the lake and was done with the co-operation of the boat owner and the marina operator. The boat was thoroughly inspected and decontaminated after it was pulled from the lake.

It’s now been confirmed that sample mussels taken from the vessel were dead at the time they were removed. There is still a small risk that viable mussels were on the hull or in internal water sources at the time the boat was launched and docked in Shuswap Lake. As an extra precaution, water samples from the boat’s bilge and pump systems are being analyzed for the presence of mussel larvae. Divers are also scheduled to complete a thorough inspection of the marina’s moorage area, piers and lakebed.

The introduction and establishment of zebra mussels or quagga mussels into British Columbia would change the biodiversity of our water systems, threaten native species and fisheries, and increase maintenance costs related to the operation of hydroelectric, industrial, agricultural and recreational facilities.

In 2009, B.C. signed on as a partner in the Columbia Basin Rapid Response Plan, along with Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. The system provides early detection, rapid response and notification about zebra and quagga mussels.

These mussels and other aquatic invasive species can be transferred from one body of water to another on boats, trailers, and boating and fishing equipment. The Invasive Species Council of B.C. is currently working with local invasive species committees and regional districts to deliver the “Clean, Drain, Dry” program. Trained staff are at boat-launch sites throughout the summer to talk to recreational boaters about the importance of cleaning their boats and equipment to halt the spread of invasive species.

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