Aquatic invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels, are serious threats to Alberta’s waterways. The province is so committed to keeping Alberta mussel-free that mussel-sniffing dogs are now a permanent addition to the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program.
When you think of Water Week, does the image of man and his best friend inspecting boats pop into mind? Probably not – however, celebrating Water Week isn’t just about conserving water; it’s also about keeping our water sources safe from invasive species.
The Alberta Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program staff here at Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) is hard at work keeping Alberta’s waterways free of zebra and quagga mussels and they aren’t afraid to bring in extra bodies to help get the job done, even if those bodies have four legs and are covered in fur.
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. Continue reading