With Memorial Day around the corner, Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is on the lookout for invasive species hitching rides on recreational boats.
Just last week, the agency found the first quagga mussel of the year, at an inspection station in Ontario.
The quagga is similar to the zebra mussel. It reduces food for native species and is known to clog up pipes in hydro-dams, nuclear power stations and irrigation systems.
Rick Boatner is the Invasive Species Coordinator for the ODFW. He says the agency spends around $300,000 each year to operate inspection stations along the state’s southern and eastern borders.
But he says if the species were able to reach the dams on the Columbia River, the price tag would be much higher.
“If they get here we’ll be spending, just the initial investment will be $25 million. And then we’d be spending a million plus each year to maintain our systems,” said Boatner.
Boatner says last year the agency conducted 4,600 inspections and stopped 18 vessels carrying quagga or zebra mussels.