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Students search for aquatic invasive species

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POLSON — Seventh grade students from the Polson Middle school gathered along the sunny shoreline of Salish Point on Friday morning as part of an educational series in the ongoing fight against aquatic invasive species.

Friday’s event, hosted by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Montana State Parks, is one of five Flathead Lake shoreline community mussel walk events scheduled at various locations around the lake this month to discuss aquatic invasive species detection and prevention. 

Guest instructors provided educational activities for the more than fifty students on topics such as mussel identification, prevention and detection. Students also learned about mussel growth and infestation and how to clean, dry and drain with success.

“I learned they can be anywhere, in anything and everywhere,” said Polson seventh grader Christian Lund. “You just got to be aware.”

Students also had the opportunity to use their knowledge during educational interactive activities, such as searching a boat for possible mussel hiding spots and a playing a mussel trivia game. The favorite activity of the day seemed to be watching the mussel-detecting dog demonstration by Labrador sisters Ismay and Rosebud.

“It was cool that they could train the dogs to find the mussels,” said Lund.

Matiah Stidham, also a seventh grade student at Polson, liked how the dogs could track down the scent of the mussels in the smallest places and bark when they found it.

The day ended with the students scouring the shoreline looking for any signs of mussels and a little trash pickup.

For more information about aquatic invasive species, visit http://csktnomussels.org or http://cleandraindry.mt.gov or contact Erik Hanson, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes at 406-883-2888 or Erik.Hanson@cskt.org.

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