BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal officials are offering a $100,000 prize to find a way to kill invasive quagga and zebra mussels.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the only area not yet invaded by the mussels in the contiguous United States is the Columbia River Basin in the Pacific Northwest. The basin contains struggling runs of salmon and steelhead trout.
The basin is also heavily harnessed for hydroelectric power. Officials estimate it will cost $500 million annually to fight the mussels if they infest infrastructure.
Bureau of Reclamation Science Adviser David Raff says the mussels are a huge problem with the potential to get worse.
They spread by hitching rides on boats and trailers, multiplying rapidly in new waters.
The deadline for submissions is Feb. 28.