Montana Wildlife Federation urges river users to protect fisheries

With record-breaking temperatures blazing across Montana, the Montana Wildlife Federation urges anglers, boaters and other river users to do their part and protect Montana’s fisheries by establishing good cleaning habits for boats, boots, waders and other fishing and boating equipment.

To spread the message, MWF produced two web videos urging everyone who recreates on Montana’s rivers to adopt simple but effective boat and boot cleaning procedures after every day on the river. The videos were produced in coordination with the Invasive Species Action Network and explain the importance of “Clean, Drain, Dry – Every Time!” in order to reduce the spread of invasive species and diseases.

Last summer, elevated temperatures and reduced stream flows caused a mass fish die-off on the Yellowstone River brought by a widespread outbreak of proliferative kidney disease (PKD). Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks was forced to close an unprecedented 183 miles of the river to all recreation activities for several weeks during the prime fishing season. A few months after the Yellowstone outbreak, PKD was discovered on multiple Montana rivers, including the upper and lower Madison, East Gallatin, Stillwater, Bighorn, Jefferson, Shields and Boulder rivers.

Research has shown that higher water temperatures and reduced flows promote PKD outbreaks, and scientists have specifically cited PKD as a disease that will be exacerbated by climate change. In addition to disease outbreaks, climate change is expected to directly affect cold-water fish like trout and whitefish through lower flows and higher average river temperatures.

“Last summer’s outbreak on the Yellowstone gave us a frightening glimpse of how scientists predict global warming will impact Montana’s rivers” said Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. “The research is clear unabated warming will raise stream temperatures, reduce flows, and result in the spread of more diseases and invasive species.”

“But we can do something about this problem. Even as we work to address the larger threat of climate change, everyone who uses our rivers needs to get into the habit of cleaning boats and gear after every time on the river.”

Simple cleaning measures can have a tremendous impact on the spread of invasive species. Removing all mud and grime also gets rid of the plants or parasites that may be trying to hitch a ride. Thoroughly draining and drying all year is also crucial to preventing the introduction of invasives to new waterbodies.

“Cleaning to prevent the spread of invasive species is an important part of every day on the water,” said Leah Elwell of Invasive Species Action Network. “We’re encouraging folks to get into good habits all year long, and clean your gear after every trip.”

MWF’s videos and other information can be found at http://montanawildlife.org/cleanyourgear/.

In early 2015, the Montana Wildlife Federation released a report outlining the impacts of climate change on Montana’s outdoor economy, finding that the important economic sector could lose 11,000 jobs and $281 million in earnings, due to stream closures, lost hunting opportunities, wildfires and diminished snowpack. The report can be found here: http://montanawildlife.org/climate-impact/.

Poll

How much time do you spend using a computer or smart phone during a typical day?