The undersigned sportsmen’s organizations respectfully request that you (the Wyoming legislature) support the budget amendment to fund a rapid, multi-agency response to immediately evaluate and contain the zebra mussel outbreak. Despite our best efforts to keep our boats, waders, and boots clean to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), Wyoming now has an AIS problem due to contaminated aquarium supplies. This is a specific, pressing issue that demands an immediate, coordinated response therefore we believe the situation warrants a specific budget allocation.
Zebra mussels are highly prolific, with the potential to proliferate in and irreversibly overtake rivers, lakes, agricultural water infrastructure, municipal water treatment and delivery systems, and hydropower facilities. Multiple state agencies need to work in lockstep to quickly find, isolate, and then monitor for zebra mussels. Extensive public outreach is urgently needed to track and ensure proper disposal of the AIS-contaminated aquarium supplies that have been sold at pet stores in and around Wyoming. WGFD should not bear the entire cost burden of responding to AIS outbreaks. WGFD is funded by hunters’ and anglers’ license dollars, and this zebra mussel outbreak was neither caused by hunters and anglers nor will it impact only hunters and anglers. A budget allocation would be appropriate, as the invasive zebra mussels could impact the entire state.
The language in HB0001H2025 is targeted, limited in its application, and focused on facilitating Wyoming state agencies (likely including the Department of Agriculture, Game and Fish Department, Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, and Water Development Office) to respond quickly, effectively, and in coordination with one another and the Governor’s office.
This is an emergency situation the House can both clearly define and decisively address. Acting now by allocating
$100,000 could prevent the need to spend tens-to-hundreds of millions of dollars in the future, and it would demonstrate solutions-oriented governance. Our limited water resources and our vital water infrastructure are worth protecting; for our fisheries and for each and every one of our communities.
This letter to the legislature regarding the needed rapid zebra mussel response was signed on by the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Dubois Anglers & Wildlife Group, the Western Bear Foundation, Wyoming Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and Bowhunters of Wyoming.