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North Texans urged to be on the lookout for exotic and invasive mussels
ABILENE — In April 2009 Lake Texoma and Sister Grove Creek, which empties into Lake Lavon, were invaded by an aquatic critter known as the zebra mussel. Zebra mussels have become well established in Lake Texoma; however, to date there is no indication that they have become established in Lake Lavon. Zebra mussels have the uncanny ability to attach to nearly anything underwater and very quickly colonize rocks, boat docks, water intake pipes, boats or even your minnow bucket.
Zebra mussels are originally from the Balkans, Poland and the former Soviet Union but found their way to the Americas in the 1980s via ballast water of a ship. They were first found in 1988 in Lake St. Clair, Michigan, and are currently found in 27 states and 621 lakes or reservoirs in the United States.
Zebra mussels can have economic and recreational impacts in Texas reservoirs. For example, they can clog public-water intake pipes, which will lead to increased utility bills as consumers absorb the cost of removal. Also, they can ruin boats and motors by covering boat hulls and clogging water-cooling systems, annoy boat-dock owners by completely covering anything left under water and can make water recreation hazardous because of their razor-sharp edges.
In Texas the general recommendation is to keep a boat out of the water for a week during summer months to 18 days during the winter if it was in a water body that is infested with zebra mussels before going to a non-infested water body. Additionally, every boater should follow the clean, drain, dry procedure if their boat has been in waters infested with zebra mussels or other invasive species. Clean the boat, equipment and trailer of all foreign objects such as mud and vegetation; drain the boat and motor of all water before leaving the boat ramp and allow sufficient time for the boat to dry completely before going to another water body. For more information on zebra mussels go to www.texasinvasives.org.
If you are at any area reservoir, creek or river and see some mussels that are no bigger than about three-fourths of an inch long and have brownish stripes much like a zebra, report it at http://www.texasinvasives.org/action/report_detail.php?alert_id=2.
Spencer Dumont is a fisheries biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. For more information on area reservoirs and fish populations, contact the Abilene Inland Fisheries district office at (325) 692-0921, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/tpwdifabilene
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