We let the dogs out! Meet Alberta’s four-legged partners in the fight against invasive mussels

This summer, we asked Albertans to voluntarily have their boats checked for invasive mussels when they crossed our borders. If you stopped at an inspection station (there are four, located on major highways entering the province and two roving crews), you likely saw our friendly Government of Alberta watercraft inspectors. These folks thoroughly inspect each and every watercraft that stops – but to do a really complete job, they get a little help from some furry friends.

Boats are full of nooks and crannies that can’t be seen by the naked eye. Invasive mussels can catch a ride in these areas – and remain undetected by human inspectors. But sniffer dogs rely on their noses – not their eyes – to locate mussels. Check out the video to see for yourself.

This program isn’t just good for our ecosystems – it’s good for the dogs too! The same characteristics that make some dogs less likely to be adopted from shelters – like high energy levels and an inquisitive nature – make them great candidates to help sniff out mussels and other invasive species.


Photo of a boat propeller covered with invasive mussels.

While we’d like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who stopped for an inspection this summer, the fact remains that just as many people didn’t stop. An infestation could cost the province as much as $75 million per year to fight – and it’s the responsibility of each and every boat owner to prevent that from happening. Please get inspected.

2 thoughts on “We let the dogs out! Meet Alberta’s four-legged partners in the fight against invasive mussels

  1. Great video. I suggest another one or information for boaters about what they can do to sterilize their boats. some questions that boaters would likely want to know answers to include: how long can mussels live out of water; is a boat sterilized if it is not used over winter; how do mussels reproduce–is it whole mussels only that are the problem or are their eggs or immature mussels? What is a good sanitation process a boat owner can undertake on their own?

    • Thanks for your comment, Brian – those are all great suggestions for follow-up posts. Our website does have some step-by-step instructions for boat owners to clean, drain and dry their boats to prevent the spread of mussels – you can take a look at those here: http://bit.ly/YC9q8i. But a video post is a great idea. Thanks!

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