A bill in front of the Montana Legislature is looking to Ban Felt Soled Wading Boots starting in October of 2011. Here is a link to the Bill along with some other additional scientific studies in regards to Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) and felt soled shoes. There has been a very good debate on some local blogs and websites, so I wanted to get and idea of what the forum members think of the idea of banning felt! Here are the links!
Montana Bill as it is written in Annotated Code.
MSU Research grad student Kiza Gates Study on Whirling Disease transportation!
In 2007 at Montana State University, graduate student Kiza Gates published the results of her study of the potential for angler movement of whirling disease (WD) In the course of her research she studied anglers’ waders to determine the probability of their transporting WD and discovered that the average angler who does not clean their boots is transporting 16.78 grams (.59oz) of sediment from one access site to another. The amount of sediment was the same for people arriving at a site and leaving a site which means that anglers are moving sediment between waters. Doing some very basic calculations, she determined that in 2005 angler boots moved more than 6,300 pounds of sediment between access sites in Southwestern Montana. Additionally, she calculated that non-resident anglers carried more than 1,600 pounds of sediment into and out of Montana.
The next question she looked at was if WD was being carried between sites in this sediment. Unfortunately, the level of technology available did not allow her to answer the question for WD. However, a New Zealand mud snail was discovered in the sediment recovered from one boot which shows that invasive species are definitely being transported in the sediment carried on waders.
Thus, we know that anglers can transport didymo in this fashion. But, is it being transported this way? Canadian researcher Max Bothwell and his collaborators have examined the spread of didymo on Vancouver Island to try and determine how the species is spread. Although they do not have actual observations of anglers causing new introductions, they concluded that “the pattern of didymo spread among rivers on Vancouver Island correlates with the activity of fishermen and the commercial introduction and widespread use of felt-soled waders in the late 1980s”
It's a very long read with some interesting and controversial findings. Here is a comment from Earl who actually took the time to read all 92 pages of Kiza's paper and his comments about contradictions in her findings.
To better educate myself on the topic, in addition to reading blogs here and at TU, I took the time to read all 92 pages of Kiza Gates’ study. I strongly encourage everyone to read her report. After reading many blog comments and responses, I was surprised at what I actually read in one of the most often cited studies.
First off, out of 106 samples of the 16.78 grams of soil collected from wading boots and waders, 100% tested NEGATIVE (Gates page 47) for the presence of M.cerebralis DNA (whirling disease causative agent). On page 53 she posits that M.cerebralis COULD have been present, but that under her methodology (which she designed for the study) there was a 100% NEGATIVE result. (92% of the boots tested were felt soled, tests were conducted on the Big Horn, Beaverhead, Madison, Missouri, and Yellowstone ).
Secondly, the single above mentioned New Zealand mud snail from the study was a DEAD mud snail. (Although the zebra mussel viability outside of water was noted at 4 days, none was given for the NZ mud snail).
Thirdly, in the section specifically relating to felt, here are her words: “The potential for felt to carry even small numbers of myxospores suggests that introduction of m. cerebralis by anglers is possible although the processes necessary to release myxospores from felt were not explored in this study. Many unanswered questions remain regarding the transport vectors and conditions necessary for the proliferation of M. cerebralis.”
Immediately after this sentence, she concludes her paper with this statement: “However, transport of the parasite on angling equipment materials is possible and I recommend the use of rubber soled wading boots over felt soled boots in M.cerebralis infected drainages.”
The NET result of her seemingly thorough study was that she found ZERO evidence of ANS species being transported by felt, rubber, gore-tex, or neoprene. I found it unprofessional of her to editorialize (she recommended showing a video before purchase of a Montana fishing license, in addition to the rubber over felt comment) on subjects that were not proved (if anything they were 100% disproved) within the scope of her paper.
So what does this mean? I’m willing to entertain the idea that anglers and our equipment are a vector for the spread of ANS. However, I certainly can’t conclude on the basis of this paper that we now require legislation to completely ban felt on Montana rivers. This research is in its infancy, and a lot more work and data is needed before we start passing legislation.
I am encouraged that the topic has generated so much discussion, our Rivers will benefit from an engaged discussion.
One last scientific report from Canadian Biologist Max Bothwell and his colleagues while studying Dydmo on Vancouver Island.
The subject is sticky and the science is still very young on transportation of many ANS. Thank you for all that comment on the subject and if you want to keep track of the bill as it passes through the Montana Legislature you can go to the state update site at Montana Legislature