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By Joann Wallenburn
Clearwater Resource Council 

Invasive Mussels Found in Montana


The Clearwater Resource Council received notice that the larval form of the invasive mussels commonly known as zebra or quagga mussels have been positively identified in water samples from the Tiber Reservoir, east of the divide. Water samples from Canyon Ferry are giving inconclusive results.

Until this finding, Montana was one of only five mussel-free states west of the Mississippi; the other states being Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming.

The rapid response plan has been put in motion to assess the extent of the infestation and to determine the best course of action for eradication or containment. So far, no adult mussel colonies have been located, but the effort to search for them is young. At this point, there are far more questions than answers.

We do not yet know the results of the water samples collected on our lakes. It’s either a “no news is good news” situation where the testing is done and the results were negative or it’s a “no news is no news” because the samples haven’t been tested yet. Much as I would like to contact the lab to find out, I’m sure they are overwhelmed testing samples from Tiber and Canyon Ferry and downstream waters.

The Clearwater Resource Council has had an active monitoring program for these mussels since 2011. With the help of volunteers, the six major lakes (Alva, Inez, Seeley, Salmon, Placid and Big Sky) are monitored four times throughout the summer. Another dozen lakes are monitored once every three years.

With the positive finding in Montana, those lake assignments and frequencies may change. If you are willing to help monitor our lakes next year, we can always use more hands. Please contact Joann by email: or by phone 406-210-8453.


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