British Columbia is focusing on preventing invasive mussels from entering the province by opening two new invasive mussel inspections stations near the border at Yahk and Midway, and extending the hours of all inspection stations throughout the province.
These new operations are part of new funding announced by Premier Christy Clark, as the Province continues with efforts to keep B.C. free of zebra and quagga mussels.
The new funds are also going toward turning B.C.’s busiest inspection station at Golden into a 24-hour operation, and extending the hours for British Columbia’s, nine other stations from dawn to dusk. To support the new extended hours, the Province is also adding 35 inspection officers to the program, bringing the total to 68 auxiliary conservation officers.
The Province is unleashing a new and unique tool to fight invasive mussels - Kilo, Canada’s first and only multi-purpose mussel-sniffing dog.
Kilo, a German shepherd dog, is undergoing training to sniff out mussels as well as firearms and bear parts. Kilo also will be used in evidence-recovery cases. He will be “paws on the ground” July 1, and is part of an elite group of dogs in North America to have this training.
The Province is providing the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation with three years funding to expand government’s ongoing invasive-mussel lake monitoring to detect potential invasive mussel larvae. This will help build capacity for local stewardship groups to become involved in early detection; a critical first step in preventing them from becoming established in B.C.
Funding announced today is valued at approximately $3 million. It includes:
- $2.45 million, primarily for the increased staffing;
- $450,000 over three years to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation for the lake monitoring program; and
- $170,000 for equipment for the enhanced program.
This brings the total program funding to $4.5 million annually, with partner funding from BC Hydro, Columbia Power, Fortis BC and the Columbia Basin Trust.
It is illegal to transport invasive mussels anywhere in British Columbia. It is mandatory for motorists with watercraft to report to an inspection station during operating hours. Motorists who fail to stop at an inspection station can be fined $345.
Outside of operating hours, signage will direct motorists to report information about where they are arriving from, their destination in B.C. and to what extent they have taken steps to ensure they are not transporting invasive mussels.
Conservation officers will be increasing enforcement of existing penalties, which can include fines up to $50,000 for a first offense for illegally transporting mussels anywhere in B.C.
The Province will also continue to work with the Canada Border Services Agency to strengthen the screening of all watercraft entering from the United States, and intercept high-risk watercraft at border crossings.
Zebra and quagga mussels can significantly alter the food web, resulting in the collapse of native fish populations including sockeye salmon. They can clog pipes and water systems and ultimately can affect municipal and industrial water supplies.
The economic impact of invasive mussels to hydropower, agricultural irrigation, municipal water supplies and recreational boating has been estimated to be $43 million annually. They also have a reputation of decreasing the quality of the recreational experience, impacting tourism.
Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines –
“We recognize the potential impact of invasive mussels, and so have ramped up our prevention measures. The adding additional inspection stations with extended hours will help us to keep our waterways free of these devastating mussels.”
- A mobile trailer featuring visuals of the Clean, Drain, Dry program is travelling throughout B.C. providing public awareness about invasive mussels.
- The Provincial Invasive Mussel Defence Program launched in March 2016 with annual funding, including:
- Support from BC Hydro $1.25 million, Columbia Basin Trust $250,000, Columbia Power $250.000, and Fortis BC $250,000, and Ministry of Agriculture $200,000. Ministry of Environment provides significant in-kind scientific, program administration, and Conservation Officer Service (COS) support.
- During the 2016 boating season, the program inspected 24,500 boats and interacted with 50,000 people at the inspection stations.
- Boats were identified as travelling into B.C. from 58 different provinces, territories and states.
- The program intercepted 685 boats from high-risk provinces or states and intercepted 17 mussel-fouled boats.
For more information about The BC Invasive Mussel Program: www.gov.bc.ca/invasivemussels
To learn about invasive species, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/invasive-species