K9 Major Added to BC's Defense Against Invasive Mussels

The province is ramping up patrols to protect British Columbia’s economy and waterways from invasive species of mussels.

Major, the newest member of the Aquatic Invasive Species K9 Unit, has been training with his handler Sgt. Cynthia Mann since November and is ready to jump into the action.

They will be joining BC Conservation’s veteran detection dog Kilo, for their first season this year.

Major and Kilo will be stationed primarily at inspection posts across the province, sniffing out zebra and quagga mussels on boats.

The dogs are also trained to detect the smell of firearms, shell casings, illegal bear parts, human scent and more, for work during the off season.

According to George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, zebra and quagga mussels attach to hard surfaces, which allow them to move between provinces and international borders.

They multiply exponentially, plug pipes and are extremely difficult to eliminate once they enter the lake.

"They can damage hydro power installations, agriculture, irrigation, municipal water supplies, and recreational boating. There's the potential cost to British Columbia's economy of up to $43 million a year if these invasive mussels were to be introduced into our province," said Heyman.

Quagga and zebra mussels have be found in Manitoba Ontario Quebec along with dozens of states south of the boarder

“Last year our inspectors found 25 boats with mussels during more than 40,000 inspections. To me that says the system is working well,” said Heyman.

No invasive mussels have been found in B.C's lakes and rivers to date.