Most boaters, anglers and other lake users are aware that zebra mussels are thriving in El Dorado Reservoir and the Walnut River in Kansas, as well as Winfield City Lake.
A handful of other lakes in the region are also infested with zebra mussels, including Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri; Skiatook, Oologah, Kaw and Keystone lakes in Oklahoma; and the lake on Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
Visitors to these lakes need to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels.
Zebra mussels are small freshwater mollusks that typically have a dark and white (zebra-like) pattern on their shells. This highly prolific species will rapidly attach to and cover any hard structure in the water.
Once attached, zebra mussels are difficult to remove.
Zebra mussels also cause problems by competing for food with young fish and native mussels. Although zebra mussels often make water clearer, the clear water can lead to conditions that create toxic algae blooms that can kill fish. The clear water also can allow ultraviolet rays to damage fish eggs.
Zebra mussel larvae are free-floating and microscopic, which enables aquatic users to transport them unknowingly between bodies of water in livewells, bait buckets or bilge water.
Once zebra mussels become established, they are nearly impossible to eradicate. All aquatic users - especially boaters - must drain and clean their equipment before launching in a new lake or stream.
The zebra mussel is just one species that poses a threat to the aquatic resources of Kansas.
The following simple precautions may help control these organisms:
¢ Learn to identify nuisance species.
¢ Empty bait buckets on dry land, not into the lake.
¢ Inspect aquatic recreational equipment (boats, trailers, anchors, duck decoys, water toys - anything that holds water) and remove any visible organisms and vegetation.
¢ Wash equipment with 104-degree water (typical car wash hot water rinse), a 10-percent chlorine and water solution, or dry for at least five days to remove or kill species that are not visible.
¢ Never move fish caught from one body of water to another.
¢ Do not release aquarium pets.
¢ Contact Wildlife and Parks at (620) 342-0658 if you find any aquatic nuisance species.