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Idaho Fish and Game extends quagga closures in Magic Valley

ISDA staff decontaminate a boat that's been in the Snake River searching for mussels.
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio
ISDA staff decontaminate a boat that's been in the Snake River searching for mussels.

All hunting, fishing and trapping is closed along a roughly 14-mile stretch of the Snake River where state officials are trying to eradicate invasive quagga mussels. 

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners unanimously voted to enforce the closure Friday morning.

Lance Hebdon, Idaho Fish and Game’s fisheries chief, said commissioners want to limit access to the area as preparations begin to treat the river.

“Part of it is we just don’t want people down there interfering with the actual treatment itself and the other part of it is there are going to be a fair number of dead fish out of this treatment,” Hebdon said.

“No dogs, no decoys, don’t be fishing in the river from Twin Falls down to the Highway 46 bridge,” said Hebdon. “No boats, none of that sort of thing.”

So far, state officials have found one adult mussel and juvenile larvae in the water, according to Idaho Fish and Game.

Quagga mussels can cause extensive infrastructure damage to water pipes – something state officials want to avoid.

The chemical fish and game said officials plan to use, called Natrix, is deadly to other fish and some livestock, such as sheep, officials said during Friday’s meeting.

That stretch of river is home to hatchery raised sturgeon, bass and native fish like suckers and sculpin. No endangered species are known to live there, according to Hebdon.

A planned stocking of rainbow trout in that area is expected to be moved elsewhere.

Hebdon expects it will take a while to rebuild the fishery along that area of the Snake.

“It’s unfortunate, but I’m convinced it’s necessary,” said commission chairman Tim Murphy.

Those who have fished, boated or recreated in the river in the past 30 days, including kayaks and paddleboards, are urged to bring their equipment to one of several wash stations in the Magic Valley or to clean them at home to prevent the mussels from spreading.

Hebdon expects the chemical treatment, which is being overseen by other agencies like the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, to be used next week following meetings between officials and the public.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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