GARRISON, N.D. (KXNET) — The North Dakota Governor’s Walleye Cup is bringing people in from all over the state and even from other states to Garrison this weekend.
Something these boats could bring, besides people, is an invasive species of mussel, that’s where Puddles and Fin come in.
Puddles and Fin are two dogs trained to sniff out invasive mussels for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
They’re in North Dakota with their handlers to help screen boats at the North Dakota Governor’s Walleye Cup this weekend.
“The interviewers will ask you where the boat has been, where it’s going and that’s just for informational purposes too. We, as a network of trying to prevent aquatic invasive species, we know where the positive waters are so we know what states, where boats are likely to come in that, are infected,” said Pam Taylor, a sergeant for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The dogs help make sure people aren’t accidentally carrying quagga and zebra mussels on their boats.
“They bring an extra level of protection. They can detect things that humans cannot. So you have a partner to work with, you have someone that has a better sense of smell than you do. So you have a better chance of not missing something if you have a dog working with you,” said Taylor.
You may be wondering why these mussels are such a big deal.
Quagga and Zebra mussels take nutrients from the water which will lead to lower amounts of aquatic life, and they can even negatively impact the state economy.
“Our economy and our tourism will also plummet. Because there’s not going to be as much traffic for our amazing fishing here in North Dakota,” said Scott Sterling, a natural resource specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Garrison Project.
The mussels are present in some eastern lakes and rivers in the state, so it’s very important to be proactive.
“These mussels are 100% preventable. That’s why it’s great for the public to know and be educated and aware that all they need to do, with any type of marine equipment, is to clean, drain and dry it before transporting it between water bodies,” said Sterling.
The dogs will be checking all 260 boats expected to be in the tournament and if the mussels are detected, the boat will be pressure washed with hot water and checked again.
To learn more about these mussels and other invasive species, tune into KX News’s Town Hall on Thursday, July 28, at 6:30 p.m.