Keep AIS Prevention Protocols in Mind This Fourth of July

33,000 watercraft inspected so far this year

As boaters and other water recreationists gear up for the July 4th holiday, they need to follow the rules to prevent aquatic invasive species from affecting Montana’s waters.

Those rules include:

  • All boats must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations they encounter. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $500.
  • Always be sure to clean, drain and dry your boat.
  • All watercraft entering Montana are required to be inspected for aquatic invasive species. An inspection is required before launching on Montana waters.
  • Non-residents transporting watercraft into Montana must purchase a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass before launching. The fee is $30 for motorized and $10 for nonmotorized watercraft. The pass is valid until Dec. 31.

Inspection is required for Montana residents before launch IF: the boat is entering the state, crossing west over the Continental Divide or entering the Flathead basin.

So far this year, FWP and its partners have inspected 33,000 watercraft. Of those, 28 were mussel-fouled and 140 were found with aquatic weeds. The most recent detection was on June 27, when mussels were found on a recently purchased pontoon boat traveling from Illinois to Ronan, Montana. Inspectors washed the boat, locked it to the trailer, and AIS staff will follow up with the boat owner to conduct a thorough decontamination

FWP and partner agencies, which include tribes, counties and conservation districts, operate more than 17 road-side watercraft inspection stations across the state. To find a watercraft inspection station or to learn more, go to or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.