Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

May 28, 2013

Zebra Mussels – a real threat to our lakes

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 5:58 am

“Clean, Drain and Dry” Regimen Bad News for Zebra Mussels

AUSTIN — Nothing ruins a zebra mussel’s day more than a boater who Cleans, Drains and Dries his boat to prevent the spread of this small but devastating aquatic invasive species.

With thousands of Texans planning to head to their favorite lakes this Memorial Day weekend, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is urging boaters and anglers to follow the simple Clean, Drain and Dry procedure to keep zebra mussels from further expansion in the state.

“Now that water temperatures are getting warmer, zebra mussels are approaching their peak period of reproduction,” explains Brian Van Zee, TPWD Inland Fisheries Regional Director. “The best way to stop zebra mussels is for boaters who operate their vessels on Lakes Texoma, Lewisville or Ray Roberts, to Clean, Drain and Dry their boats before launching into another body of water.”

zebra_mussels

Zebra mussels became established in Lake Texoma in 2009 and last year were found in Lake Ray Roberts and the Elm Fork of the Trinity River above Lake Lewisville.  They can expand their range farther by hitching a ride on boats and trailers that have been immersed in waters where they have established populations.

“Unfortunately, zebra mussel larvae, called veligers, are not visible to the naked eye,” said Van Zee.  “You could be transporting them on your boat and not even know it.  This is why it’s particularly important to always Clean, Drain, and Dry your boat and gear before heading to another water body.”

Native to the former Soviet Union, zebra mussels made their way to the United States via the exchange of ballast water from ocean-going vessels passing through the St. Lawrence Seaway to ports on the Great Lakes. Since then, the rapidly propagating bivalves have been spreading throughout the U.S.

Zebra mussels can survive in many different aquatic habitats, reproduce prolifically, and cannot be controlled by natural predators.  Zebra mussels attach to hard surfaces including boats, water-intake pipes, buoys, docks, piers, plants and slow moving animals such as native clams, crayfish, and turtles.  Their sharp shells can hinder water recreation and foul shorelines.  Zebra mussels can even affect a city’s water supply, costing millions of taxpayer dollars to maintain and repair those systems.

zebra_mussels1(a plastic lawn chair pulled from a lake was covered with mussels)

Of immediate concern, Van Zee said, are North Texas lakes such as Lavon, Ray Hubbard, Grapevine, Eagle Mountain, Joe Pool, Possum Kingdom, Granbury, Richland Chambers, Cedar Creek, Tawakoni, Lake Fork and others. These lakes are on major river systems in North Texas and they are heavily used by recreational boaters.

Once Zebra Mussels become established in a water body it is too late, as there is no known way to get rid of them.

zebra_mussels2( a crawfish will die as result zebra mussels to its body)

TPWD along with a coalition of partners including the North Texas Municipal Water District, Tarrant Regional Water District, Trinity River Authority, City of Dallas, City of Grapevine, City of Houston, City of Waco, Sabine River Authority, San Jacinto River Authority, Brazos River Authority, Upper Trinity Regional Water District, Canadian River Municipal Water Authority, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Geological Survey and the University of Texas at Arlington continue working together to monitor for zebra mussels as well as educate the public about the need to “Clean, Drain and Dry” their boats.

Under the TPWD and Texas Penal Codes, possession or transporting of zebra mussels in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for the first offense. Repeat offenses can be elevated to a Class B misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, jail time up to 180 days, or both.  If an individual is convicted a third time for this same offense it becomes a Class A misdemeanor which is a fine of up to $4,000, jail time not to exceed one year, or both.

For more information on zebra mussels see a new zebra mussel web page at http://www.texasinvasives.org/zebramussels

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 (watch this Texas Parks and Wildlife Video)

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