WA State moving from Warnings to Citations


Subject: FYI - WA state moving from warnings to citations onzebra/quagga

Olympia, WA 98501-1091

October 29, 2007
Contact: Mike Cenci, (360) 902-2936
Mike Whorton, (509) 892-7857

First Washington citations issued
for zebra mussel contamination

SPOKANE -- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
enforcement officers have shifted from warnings to issuing citations in
an effort to keep Washington's waters free of an invasive species that
threatens native fish and wildlife.

The state's first citations for illegally transporting zebra mussels
were issued earlier this month to two out-of-state trucking companies
hauling large boats to the Pacific coast. Live zebra mussels were found
attached to boats being transported by a hauler from Ontario, Canada,
and another from Iowa. The zebra mussels were spotted during Washington
State Patrol commercial vehicle inspections at a Washington-Idaho
port-of-entry weigh station east of Spokane.

Zebra mussels have been prohibited in Washington since 2002, but
officers are taking stronger action against contaminated vessels now
that zebra mussels and a subspecies known as Quagga mussels have shown
up in other western states.

In the recent detections here, State Patrol officers who had been
trained by WDFW on invasive species inspection spotted the tiny mollusks
and contacted WDFW. WDFW issued the trucking companies gross misdemeanor
citations for unlawful importation and transportation of the prohibited
aquatic animals, and arranged for decontamination of the boats at marine
facilities on the coast.

"We hope these citations, which can result in fines up to $5,000,
will raise awareness that this state looks at invasive species very
seriously," said Mike Cenci, WDFW deputy chief of enforcement. "Once
a species like this gets into our waters, it's very unlikely we can
contain it," he said.

"When I talked with the truck driver and trucking company manager
from Ontario, both said they fully understand because they've seen
what zebra mussels have done to the Great Lakes area," said Capt. Mike
Whorton, who heads WDFW's enforcement operations in eastern
Washington. "One trucking company manager said he would no longer haul
vessels that have not passed an aquatic-invasive-species inspection."

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are native to the Caspian Sea.
They entered the Great Lakes in the mid 1980s in ship ballast water, and
have since spread to more than 20 states and two Canadian provinces. The
mussels are easily transported on boats and trailers because they can
live out of water for up to a month. Once zebra mussels are introduced
to a water body they multiply quickly and threaten native fish and
wildlife by consuming available food and smothering other species. They
also clog water-intake systems at power plants and other facilities. In
southern California, Nevada and Arizona, Quagga mussels, have spread

"If zebra mussels get started here they could devastate our fish and
wildlife resources, as well as hydroelectric facilities and irrigation
systems," Cenci said.

Intercepting mussel-contaminated vessels at commercial vehicle
inspection stations is just a small part of the solution, Cenci noted,
because many recreational boats are hauled into the state without
inspections. Earlier this year the Washington Legislature expanded
authority and funding for random inspections and field checks of all

"Any real success in controlling the spread of this invasive species
will rely heavily on boat owners taking responsibility for their
vessels," Cenci said. "It's important that they know what to look
for and thoroughly clean their boats."

For more information on zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive
species, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/ans/you_can_help.htm