Hords Creek Lake ‘Fully Infested’ with Invasive Zebra Mussels
May 11, 2023
Media Contact: TPWD News, Business Hours, 512-389-8030
AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has designated Hords Creek Lake in Coleman County as “infested” with invasive zebra mussels, signifying that an established, reproducing population is present in the lake.
Staff with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initially found a single zebra mussel attached to dam infrastructure in April. TPWD biologists followed up with shoreline and substrate surveys and discovered the presence of multiple size classes of zebra mussels. The survey results indicate the presence of a reproducing population in the waterbody.
Zebra mussels began spreading westward in Texas when lakes O.H. Ivie and Brownwood were designated as infested in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Hords Creek Lake is located near these two waterbodies but had no invasive mussel reports before April.
"Unfortunately, zebra mussels have now spread to 35 Texas lakes, but there are far more lakes in Texas that still haven’t been invaded and are at risk,” said Brian Van Zee, TPWD Inland Fisheries regional director. “Each boater taking steps to clean and drain their boat before leaving the lake — and allowing compartments and gear to dry completely when they get home — can make a big difference in protecting our Texas lakes.”
Because zebra mussels are most often transported on or in boats, boaters play a critical role in preventing them from spreading to new lakes. Zebra mussels attach to boats and anything left in the water, including anchors, and can survive for days out of water, often hiding in crevices where they may escape notice. Their microscopic larvae are invisible to the naked eye, meaning they can be unknowingly transported by residual water in boats.
TPWD urges boaters to follow these three simple but crucial steps to clean, drain and dry boats and gear before traveling from lake to lake. Remove plants, mud and debris. Drain all water from the boat and gear. Once back home, open compartments and allow everything to dry completely for at least a week, if possible.
If a boat has been stored in the water at a lake with invasive mussels, it is likely infested and poses an extremely high risk for transporting these invasive species to a new lake. Before moving the boat, call TPWD at (512) 389-4848 for guidance.
In addition to the harm invasive species can cause to aquatic ecosystems, water infrastructure and the recreational experience at lakes, the transport of these organisms can result in legal trouble for boaters. Transporting prohibited aquatic invasive species in Texas is illegal and punishable with a fine of up to $500 per violation. It’s also the law that boaters must drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles, including bait buckets, before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water. They must also remove all invasive plants from the boat and trailer before leaving a lake.
For more information on how to properly clean, drain and dry boats and equipment, visit the TPWD YouTube channel for short instructional video. To learn more about zebra mussels and other invasive species in Texas, visit tpwd.texas.gov/StopInvasives.
TPWD and partners monitor for invasive species in Texas lakes, but anyone who spots them on boats, trailers or equipment that is being moved can help prevent new introductions by reporting the sighting to TPWD at (512) 389-4848. Anyone who finds invasive species such as zebra mussels in lakes where they haven’t been found before can help identify new introductions by emailing photos and location information to firstname.lastname@example.org.