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Province gears up to protect Alberta waters from invasive species

Alberta is preparing for boating season and with that comes watercraft inspection season.

The K-9 Conservation Team’s mussel-sniffing dogs, Hilo, Diesel, and Seuss will gears up in their booties and vests to help to ensure boats and other watercraft are not brought into the province with invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels.

“Mandatory watercraft inspections are one of the most important tools we have in aquatic invasive species prevention and prevention is the only way we can protect our water resources from a costly and devastating mussel infestation,” says Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks.

Inspection stations are gearing up for the influx of snowbirds on their way home from the U.S. The Coutts inspection station is the first line of defense against mussels entering the province from south of the border.

The Dunmore and Vermilion inspection stations are scheduled to open this month, with the rest of the stations to be open by the May long weekend.

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More than 21,400 inspections were completed in the 2015 boating season, and 11 boats were decontaminated for mussels. It’s estimated that an infestation of invasive mussels could cost the province more than $75 million annually – including damage to infrastructure and recreational opportunities.

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