Roosevelt Arch

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are using dogs to raise awareness about aquatic invasive species over the next few weeks.

Tobias, a Labrador retriever, will be in Yellowstone from July 19 to July 31, and he’ll appear at campgrounds and parking lots around Yellowstone Lake, according to a park news release. A different dog, named Jax, will appear at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming, four times between July 21 and Aug. 2.

The two dogs are provided by Bozeman nonprofit Working Dogs for Conservation, and while in the parks they’ll help inspectors by sniffing for invasive mussels on visitors’ boats.

Linda Veress, a Yellowstone spokeswoman, said the use of the dogs is a fairly new idea in the battle against invasive species.

“It might be a tool we can use in the future,” Veress said.

Working Dogs for Conservation has used the dogs to detect mussels in Montana and Alberta, according to its website.

Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton want to prevent the introduction of either zebra or quagga mussels there. The tiny shelled organisms can severely disrupt underwater ecosystems. They stick easily to hard surfaces and can be moved by boats.

Zebra and quagga mussels are prevalent throughout the Midwest and were first discovered in Montana in 2016.

Officials at Yellowstone and Grand Teton want to avoid any introduction because it’s impossible to eradicate them. To that end, Yellowstone requires inspections of all watercraft before launching on park waters.

Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1.

Michael Wright covers the environment and wildlife issues for the Chronicle.

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