Invasive quagga and zebra mussels have been kept out of B.C. waterways for another year. (CSISS/Facebook)

Invasive quagga and zebra mussels have been kept out of B.C. waterways for another year. (CSISS/Facebook)

2020 tests show B.C. remains invasive mussel free

Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society says efforts to keep the mussels away worked

B.C. remains invasive mussel free.

More than 900 samples were collected from lakes and rivers around the province in 2020, and no trace of the potentially destructive zebra and quagga mussels were found in any of them.

Among the environmental groups celebrating the news is the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) whose monitoring area is important in efforts to keep the mussels out of B.C. because it straddles the Trans-Canada Highway. Keeping an eye on the highways is an important part of keeping the invasive mussels out of B.C. waterways because they have been known to hitch a ride on boats being towed from elsewhere.

There are not established zebra mussel populations in Alberta or Saskatchewan, but the risk of mussels spreading from elsewhere hidden in the hulls and bilges of boats on trailers is being considered by all three western provinces.

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Six watercraft inspection stations staffed by conservation officers are set up on B.C.’s borders with Alberta and the United States. According to CSISS, 29,900 watercraft were inspected in B.C. in 2020. Sixteen of those boats were found to have adult invasive mussels aboard. Seven of the boats were bound for the Okanagan and two were on their way to the Thompson region.

Even though no trace of the mussels has been found in B.C. boat users are asked to clean, drain and dry their boats before moving them between bodies of water.

The mussels are not native to North America but exist in large numbers in Eastern Canada and the United States. According to the B.C. government, the mussels pose a potential threat to aquatic ecosystems, salmon populations and infrastructure such as hydroelectric dams. Their shells can also injure swimmers along shorelines, damage boat propellers and potentially harm the quality of drinking water.

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