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State checking for invasive species

Boaters may be stopped by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers conducting mandatory checks of boats, trailers and gear for aquatic invasive species.

The annual check stations and patrols have begun in several parts of the state. The goal is to keep zebra mussels, quagga mussels and other non-native species out of Washington’s waters. Once established, the mussels multiply quickly, threatening native species and clogging water intake systems at irrigation districts, power plants and public water districts.

Last year, officials seized a 24-foot boat in Spokane contaminated with quagga mussels from Lake Mead, Nev. Importing an aquatic weed is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and up to a year in jail. Knowingly importing an invasive species to Washington is a felony that can result in even stiffer penalties.