TWIN FALLS - Invasive species inspectors intercepted and impounded a quagga mussel-contaminated boat that had just crossed over into Idaho from Nevada on Monday.
The boat was detained at an inspection station on U.S. 93, just inside the Idaho border, Kali Sherrill with Twin Falls County Weed Control told KTVB. She said the boat had live quagga mussels on it, mostly around the engine.
The boat was decontaminated Tuesday morning, and will be quarantined for 30 days.
According to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, the boat spent the last three months in Lake Havasu, Arizona, a known quagga mussel- and zebra mussel-infested water body, and was bound for Alberta, Canada.
It was the third contaminated vessel identified by Idaho invasive species inspectors this year, but it was notably the first to have a live mussel on it.
"We are seeing more [infested boats]," said Sherrill, who oversees the U.S. 93 inspection station. "We saw a lot more last year, and we'll just have to see what this year brings."
Quagga mussels are an invasive species that can survive for several days out of water. According to ISDA, they reproduce quickly, clog pipes, foul infrastructure, and damage recreational equipment. The mussels also upset the delicate ecosystem in lakes by consuming microscopic plants that some native species need to survive.
Idaho is one of just a handful of states with no quagga mussel presence. Experts warn that if they are introduced to any Idaho waterways, it will be impossible to eradicate them.
Monday's interception and impoundment of the Canada-bound boat comes as the Idaho Legislature considers a pair of bills addressing the issue this session.
A House bill that would help fund invasive species border checks was approved by the Legislature last week. The measure would raise the boat tag fee for out-of-state boaters from $22 to $30, and would fund up to three new boat checkpoints.
Meanwhile, the Senate is considering a bill that would create would amend the Idaho Invasive Species Act, and create an Office of Invasive Species Policy within the Office of Species Conservation.
Proponents of the bills argue that the state needs to be proactive in fighting invasive species because an infestation could cost tens of millions millions of dollars in damage to infrastructure.