Bismarck, ND (KEYZ) Man's best friend is set to help protect North Dakota's waterways from invasive species.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has partnered with Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens who will employ their professionally trained K-9 companions to detect the presence of zebra and quagga mussels on boats being launched in the North Dakota Governor’s Walleye Cup tournament.

Just ahead of the 47th Annual event on July 15 - 16, the corps will host a mussel K-9 demonstration, open to the public, on Thursday, July 14 at 10 a.m. at Ft. Stevenson State Park south of Garrison. The K-9s and handlers will inspect each boat for the invasive species during angler registration and launching.

Compared to humans, K-9s provide a level of detection far beyond human capabilities, resulting in reduced risk, faster launch times and greater accountability.

Governor’s Walleye Cup Chairwoman Joyce Pfliger applauds the addition of ANS (aquatic nuisance species) - sniffing dogs to the long-running tournament on Lake Sakakawea.

"The opportunity to have these ANS-sniffing dogs take part in the Governor’s Walleye Cup and to assist with keeping our lake free of ANS is fantastic,” said Pfliger. “Hopefully, with bringing these dogs to North Dakota, it will open up the possibility of having ANS dogs here permanently. This would be one positive, additional step in the fight against ANS.”

Todd Lindquist, operation project manager for the corps in Riverdale, said the corps is ramping up their public outreach efforts to stop the introduction and spread of invasive mussels, knowing the devastating impacts invasive mussel infestation can have on Lake Sakakawea and the ripple effects on tourism, biodiversity and infrastructure.

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife currently has two boat inspectors (ANS-sniffing) dogs.  Fin (pictured) is a two-year-old pup and the department's newest hire, on the job since May after being rescued from a shelter in Texas.  He joins Puddles, who’s been with WDFW for 5 years, in sniffing for zebra and quagga mussels that are especially harmful to both boats and bodies of water.

Boat Inspector Puddles at work at the new boat check station in Clarkston, WA last month. Photo: courtesy of Facebook, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Boat Inspector Puddles at work at the new boat check station in Clarkston, WA last month.
Photo: courtesy of Facebook, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
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To learn more about Fin and his boat inspector partner, Puddles:

Fin and Puddles