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Council recommends eDNA testing, policies  

News from the Montana Invasive Species Council                                                   

HELENA – The Montana Invasive Species Council (MISC) issued recommendations to guide the use and development of environmental DNA testing for the early detection of invasive mussels on June 22.

The recommendations address both policy development and scientific protocols for eDNA sampling, analysis, communications, and verification of test results, said MISC Chair Bryce Christiaens.

“At this time, the use of eDNA as a tool to detect the presence of mussels holds both promise and uncertainty. The technology is evolving rapidly, and invasive species managers across the West have struggled with how best to utilize or interpret test results,” Christiaens said.

MISC, in coordination with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the Flathead Lake Biological Station, assembled a panel of nationally-recognized scientists in the field of eDNA for a two-day workshop in April. Christiaens said the Council’s recommendations were developed from the input of the panel.

“This is a major step forward for mussel detection and monitoring, and not just for Montana,” he said. “We’re laying the foundation for a knowledge base that will benefit state and federal agencies and stakeholders across the country.”

MISC will now work to share the eDNA recommendations through a regional work group, in coordination with the Western Regional Panel, the Western Governors’ Association, and the Pacific Northwest Economic Region. 

The Montana Invasive Species Council was founded by an executive order from Governor Steve Bullock to identify priority invasive species issues and make recommendations for improving prevention and management. The 2017 Legislature tasked MISC with creating and coordinating a science advisory panel to evaluate and provide recommendations on key invasive species issues and topics.

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