Northern Idaho officials wary of invasive mussels

Officials in northern Idaho say failing to prevent invasive zebra and quagga mussels from clogging northern Idaho waterways could end up costing the state $100 million.

Officials at a Pacific Northwest Economic Region meeting last week in Coeur d’Alene predicted an infestation of Idaho would damage fisheries, hydropower production, tourism and agriculture. Priest Lake Rep. Eric Anderson says the species out-compete all other things in the ecology when they’re introduced.

Amy Ferriter, invasive species coordinator at the Idaho Department of Agriculture, said if the mussels enter Idaho there are no real control options. She said testing has determined mussels currently aren’t in Inland Northwest Waters.

Idaho has 15 mandatory boat inspection stations at its borders. State officials say it would be too expensive to have inspection stations at the state’s 240 public boat launches, as the department’s budget is only $850,000 per year.

In 2012, workers intercepted 57 boats that had mussels attached. That’s up from three boats found with mussels in 2009.

Officials say boats should be cleaned before heading for Idaho. At stations, they’re cleaned before being allowed to continue.

In the past four years, boats from every state but Delaware have entered Idaho. Most of the boats carrying mussels are coming from Lake Mead, on the Arizona-Nevada border.  (AP)

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