Riding Mountain National Park stepping up to keep zebra mussels out

Zebra mussels continue to spread. Debbie Fiebelkorn / Submitted

Anyone traveling to Riding Mountain National Park this summer will have to take a few extra steps before they put their boat in the water.

Parks Canada said it will be adding extra measures to try to keep zebra mussels out of the park’s lakes and rivers.

This year, inspections of watercraft such as inflatables, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards will only be valid as long as the craft remains in the park, instead of for the whole summer.

All craft will need to be reinspected if they leave the park and return at a later date.

For boats, Parks Canada said a seal will be attached between the boat and the trailer, and the boat can forgo inspection if the seal is unbroken when it returns.

RMNP is also banning leeches as live bait, in order to stop the spread of zebra mussel larvae.

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Parks Canada said inspections are available for free at the Boat Cove in Wasagaming from May 15 to June 15, Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Summer inspection hours begin June 16 and are seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Clear Lake Boat Cove.

Inspections typically take 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the boat.

If decontamination is required, boaters will need to book a separate appointment, which takes half an hour to an hour to complete.

The province has been attempting to manage the spread of the invasive aquatic species ever since it was first found in Lake Winnipeg in 2013.

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Despite this, the mussels have continued to spread.

Whirlpool Lake was closed last year and remains closed this summer after evidence of zebra mussels was detected.

Park wardens will also be monitoring watercraft throughout the summer for proper permits.

Fines for non-compliance can reach a maximum of $100,000.

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Parks Canada said 19 fines have been levied and 10 watercraft seized for failing to adhere to inspection protocol.

More details can be found on the Parks Canada website.

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