JACKSON, Wyo. — Boaters in the Jackson Hole region often disregard Wyoming’s requirement that they have their watercraft inspected for aquatic invasive species, a state Game and Fish Department report says.
Three of the five statewide checkpoints where boaters were least likely to have their boats inspected were in the Jackson region, the report says. Invasive species decals are required annually for all watercraft except inflatable boats less than 10 feet long, paddleboards or other water toys.
“The majority of boaters that did not have a valid (invasive species) decal were contacted at the Snake River, Crystal Reservoir, Jackson Lake, Lower Slide Lake and the Bighorn River,” Game and Fish officials wrote.
The report breaks down the inspections conducted by Game and Fish employees from the Jackson Regional office during two days in June.
Of the 19 watercraft inspected, seven did not have a valid decal. Sixteen of the 19 watercraft were being hauled by nonresidents. One “high risk” inspection was conducted, though decontamination of the vessel was not necessary.
Mark Gocke, Game and Fish’s regional spokesman, confirmed that compliance has sometimes been a challenge in the Teton area.
“The word isn’t getting out to some people, particularly people using non-motorized watercraft floating the river,” Gocke said.
Nonresident motorized boaters have been the biggest problem.
Gocke said boats are being missed, particularly when out-of-staters drive into Jackson Hole at night.
Game and Fish wardens usually are lenient with boaters who don’t take the necessary steps to have their vessels certified free of aquatic invasive species, Gocke said.
“Most of the time they have been just informing them of the rules, because a lot of people are unaware,” he said.
But violations can result in fines of up to $150.
So far, there have been no recent instances of an aquatic invasive species being found in Jackson Hole waters.
Residents pay $5 for non-motorized vessels and $10 for motor boats. The rates for nonresidents are $15 for a non-motorized craft and $30 for a motor boat.
In addition to getting the decal, watercraft users are expected to have their boats inspected before using Wyoming waters for the first time after boating out of state.
The inspections are mandatory March 1 through Nov. 30.
If they are properly certified, boat owners can do their own inspections.
“Most of the time it’s a very quick stop,” Gocke said. “They get the certification and they’re free to go.”