Mussels stopped at border

Vernon councillor calling for more action from the provincial government

A close-call has officials ringing alarm bells over invasive mussels.

A boat infested with zebra mussels was recently stopped by inspectors in the Kootenays and Vernon Coun. Juliette Cunningham says  the species must be stopped from arriving in the Okanagan.

“It only takes one,” she said of an infested boat impacting infrastructure and changing the ecosystem.

“It’s terrifying.”

On April, 28, a boat didn’t stop for inspectors near Elko nut conservation officers later tracked it down.

Inspection teams have checked 1,200 boats so far this year. Of those, 64 were flagged as coming from high-risk locations, resulting in 12 decontamination orders and seven 30-day quarantines.

“The numbers are staggering,” said Cunningham.

The mussels, which have spread across North America, can clog pipes and other infrastructure, displace native aquatic plants and wildlife, degrade the environment and affect drinking water quality.

The provincial government recently announced that five permanent boat monitoring stations will be set up near the Alberta border while there will be three stations near the U.S. border.

However, Cunningham says the government’s actions aren’t sufficient and she is concerned that infested boats will still get into B.C.

“Every possible crossing needs a permanent station,” she said.

— with files from Jeff Nagel, Black Press