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Clean, drain, dry boat to prevent mussels in lakes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 19 May 2011 16:46

By Carolyn Lee

The Imperial Republican

 

Nebraska boaters are being reminded of the importance of watercraft inspections in stopping the spread of two invasive species of mussel. To that end, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) and the University of Nebraska have teamed up to alert boaters on lakes such as Enders Reservoir about the dangers of zebra and quagga mussels.

Minnie Petsch of Wauneta is a Creel Clerk, one of 12 in the state. From April to October she visits Enders and Swanson Reservoirs daily, interviewing fishermen about their trips and educating them about zebra and quagga mussels.

“I thought it sounded like fun and something different to do,” she explained about answering an advertisement for the position. She has been a nurse in the past.

Petsch visits the lakes at different times and stays for seven to eight hours, observing the fishing activity, recording water temperatures, and counting boats.

She records how many persons are fishing from boats and how many are fishing from the banks. She also records the types of fish caught. The information is sent to the NGPC.

“Then they know what type of fish to stock,” Petsch noted.

The NGPC began educating anglers about the dangers of the mussels in 1999-2000, according to Jared Lorensen, a fisheries biologist in North Platte.

Petsch said whoever worked at Enders Reservoir before her did a good job, as a lot of people seem to know of the invasive species, and are approachable. “But people with new boats or from out of state” need to receive the information, she said.

Lorensen said “The reason we worry a little more about Enders, Swanson and Lake McConaughy is because of the percentage of out-of-state visitors to that lake.” He pointed out that about 60 percent of Enders’ boaters are from out-of-state.

Many of those boaters are from Colorado, he noted, which has confirmed zebra mussel invasions in some of its lakes and on trailered boats.

In Nebraska, the mussels have been found in Zorinsky Lake in Omaha and at one near Offutt Air Force Base, Lorensen said.

The Invasive Species Project at UNL, coordinated by Karie Decker of Lincoln, has added five persons to Lake McConaughy, Harlan Reservoir, and in eastern Nebraska to provide voluntary inspections of boats and to hand out information about the importance of the “clean, drain and dry” process when moving boats between waterways. They will also provide boat decontamination as needed.

The goal is to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels, which can cause significant ecological problems. They’re often found attached to solid objects, such as submerged rocks, dock pilings and water intake pipes.

They are transported in bilge, ballast or live well water and attached to boat hulls.

The mussels reproduce rapidly, and once established, they cannot be eliminated.

They damage boat motors, steering components and clog cooling intakes.

An adult female zebra mussel can release up to 1,000,000 eggs in a lifetime.

The mussels are freshwater mollusks (clams) that came from the Black and Caspian Sea drainages in Eurasia.

Both zebra and quagga mussels are sometimes referred to as zebra because they have light and dark alternating strips.

Quagga are actually a separate but similar species named after an animal related to zebras.

The Nebraska Invasive Species Project asks boaters to follow these simple steps before moving a boat to another body of water:

Clean the boat by removing plants and animals and thoroughly washing all equipment that came into contact with the water;

Drain all water before leaving, including wells, bilge, ballast and any parts of equipment that can hold water;

Dry all equipment completely before launching into another body of water;

Don’t dump bait into the water supply. Dispose of unused bait in the trash, as it can harbor aquatic invaders;

Inspect all parts of the boat, trailer and vehicle before leaving or launching.

Report any sightings of zebra mussels to 1-877-786-7267.