• Red cliffs descend into the water of Bighorn Canyon

    Bighorn Canyon

    National Recreation Area MT,WY

Aquatic Invasive Species Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination - Frequently Asked Questions

Is it mandatory to get my watercraft inspected?
These are two circumstances when it would be mandatory to have your watercraft inspected.

1) When an authorized inspector determines an inspection is warranted, then an inspection is required prior to launching the watercraft.

2) If your watercraft has been on any water known to be infested with AIS within the last 30 days, then an inspection is required prior to launching the watercraft, unless it has been decontaminated and sealed.

What is a watercraft inspection?
At an AIS check station, an authorized inspector will ask a few questions to determine the risk your watercraft poses of transporting AIS. If the watercraft is deemed low-risk, the watercraft owner will be provided informational materials and allowed to launch.

A watercraft deemed high risk will need to undergo a more thorough inspection. High-risk watercraft may include those that last operated their watercraft in a state with waters known to have invasive mussels, or watercraft with a large amount of standing water which could harbor larval mussels.

Where can I go to get a watercraft inspected?
Watercraft inspections will be conducted at major waters throughout Wyoming on a rotating basis. Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) regional offices will also serve as inspection locations as needed. To request an inspection, call 1-877-WGFD-AIS.

How long will an inspection take?
A standard inspection will take 3-5 minutes. A high-risk inspection is more thorough and may take 10-30 minutes depending on the type and size of watercraft.

What can I do to ensure I don’t transport AIS and make my inspection quicker?
Before you launch in Montana or Wyoming, make sure you have followed the Drain, Clean, and Dry procedure. This will allow you to quickly move through the inspection process.

Self-check forms will be available at boat ramps, WGFD offices, and on the department’s website, which will allow you to perform a self-assessment to determine whether your watercraft may be transporting AIS. By completing this form and presenting it when you encounter an AIS check station, you should be able to launch with minimal delay. At waters without an AIS check station, complete the self-check to ensure you are not transporting AIS, and proceed to launch.

What is a watercraft “seal”?
An authorized inspector may apply a tamper-proof seal that connects the watercraft to the trailer. Upon exiting a water, the inspector will ensure a watercraft is Drained, Cleaned, and will be Dried for the required time, and will then attach the seal. A receipt will accompany the seal and must be presented at the next AIS check station to be valid.

At the next AIS check station, the watercraft owner can then present the receipt, the inspector will verify information, cut the seal, and allow launch. If the watercraft owner does not encounter an AIS check station the next time they launch, they can remove the seal themselves and proceed to launch.

Do I need to stop at an AIS check station?
Yes, all persons transporting watercraft shall stop at authorized AIS check stations that are established on their route of travel.

What happens if my watercraft needs to be decontaminated?
An authorized inspector will thoroughly spray the exterior and flush the interior compartments with scalding (140°F) water to remove and kill any AIS that may be on the watercraft. After decontamination, the watercraft will be inspected again to ensure the decontamination was successful. Watercraft that are heavily infested with AIS may require a quarantine to kill any AIS that may not have been killed during a decontamination.

Can I use a car wash to decontaminate my watercraft?
No. Only an authorized inspector can decontaminate watercraft in Wyoming. In addition, the water used at car washes does not reach the high temperatures needed to kill AIS, and the effluent may drain into a water and spread any AIS washed from the watercraft. It is best to decontaminate watercraft on a dirt or gravel surface where the effluent water can evaporate.

Can I disinfect my watercraft using bleach or other chemicals?
No. Hot water or drying are the only approved decontamination methods in Wyoming. Chemicals, such as bleach, have not been proven to be effective in disinfecting all AIS and may damage your watercraft and equipment.

Did You Know?

Fishing the Bighorn River, photo by Doug Haacke

The 112 mile long Bighorn River below Yellowtail Dam is a complex fishery. The upper river supports mainly trout and whitefish, while the lower stretches hold goldeye, walleye, sauger, smallmouth bass, catfish and even pike. More...