Amy Benson, U.S. Geological Survey,

Zebra and Quagga Mussels

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Zebra and quagga mussels are native to the Black and Caspian Seas and were introduced to North America’s Great Lakes in ballast water from Russia in the late 1980s. Both species of mussel can wreak havoc when introduced to a new environment by disrupting the natural food chain and crowding out native species.

Infested Boat Propellor - NPSThey were first detected in the western United States in January 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. They have since spread throughout the Colorado River system and are now found in several other western states.

The mussels can colonize on hulls, engines and steering components of boats, other recreational equipment, and can damage boat motors and restrict cooling. These mussels also attach to aquatic plants, submerged sediment, and surfaces such as piers, pilings, water intakes, and fish screens.

Infested waters of the West

Zebra and quagga mussels have not been found in Idaho waters to date. To protect Idaho, ISDA was set up a watercraft inspection station program, focusing on inspecting boats from impacted states as they come across the state line.

If you have launched in mussel infested water in the last 30 days, you must have a watercraft inspection before you launch in Idaho.

Call 877-336-8676 to schedule a (FREE) inspection.

Infested waters of great concern to Idaho:

  • Lake Mead
  • Lake Havasu
  • Lake Mohave
  • Lake Powell

Use this checklist every time you exit a water body.

----CLEAN - Any visible mud, plants or animals from your boat.
----DRAIN - All water, including from the lower outboard unit, ballast, livewell, ect.
----DRY - All areas of your boat and equipment.

Boat Check Station - ISDAInspection Stations

Idaho’s inspection stations are placed on major highways at or near the Idaho state line.

This strategy is taken to maximize contact with boats that are travelling into the state from impacted states.

Inspection stations


The early detection mussel monitoring program in Idaho waters uses several methods, including plankton tow sample collection for veliger detection and static substrate and shoreline monitoring for adult detection.
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