By Schnarr, J.W. on March 20, 2017.
Motorized and trailer-launched watercraft have been banned in Waterton Lakes National Park in order to deal with invasive mussel species.
An announcement was made on Thursday regarding the decision following the discovery of invasive mussels in the Tiber Reservoir in Montana.
“Given the huge risk associated with an infestation of these mussels, I wholeheartedly support the decision of Parks Canada to ban motorized and trailer-launched watercraft in Waterton Lakes National Park,” stated Foothills MP John Barlow in a recent news release. “I urge park users to co-operate with park officials and contact them with any questions.”
Tiber Reservoir is less than a half-day’s drive from Waterton Lakes National Park. The ban is deemed to be the most effective method to safeguard the ecological health of the park from devastating and permanent effects of invasive mussels.
Invasive mussels (quagga and zebra) are originally from Europe and were introduced to North America in the 1980s. The fingernail-sized freshwater mollusk can produce millions of eggs and easily attaches itself to objects such as boats. Their numbers can reach tens of thousands per square metre.
The mussels strip nutrients from the water and leave little or no food for native species, having a dramatic impact on local food webs. They also cause damage to water-based infrastructure and there is no known way to reverse an infestation.
The mussels can be moved around by boats, equipment, and trailers. Standing or trapped water in boats is a concern because the mussels have a microscopic larval stage and can avoid detection.
Currently, the mussels are found in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and 34 U.S. states, including Montana.
“This is a real threat to an iconic watershed in Alberta,” Barlow stated. “Proactive action had to be taken to protect it and restricting access to the lakes is the right thing to do.”
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