Zebra mussels continue infestation of Kansas lakes

Two more lakes found to have invasive mollusks

050814-zebraTOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Wellington Lake in Sumner County earlier this month. Wellington city staff discovered the invasive, sharp-shelled mollusks as they replaced buoy lines. KDWPT staff subsequently found well-established populations of zebra mussels of various ages in the old and new parts of the lake.

In May, KDWPT confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Paola City Lake, or Lake Miola, in Miami County. On May 23, an angler snagged an old fishing rod near the boat ramp with live adult zebra mussels attached and reported it to the local KDWPT game warden. KDWPT aquatic nuisance species staff subsequently found more zebra mussels of various ages in several parts of the lake. The population appears to be well-established.

Wellington Lake covers approximately 675 surface acres, and is managed by the city of Wellington. Lake Miola covers approximately 220 acres and is managed by the city of Paola.

KDWPT manages both lakes’ fisheries as part of the department’s Community Fisheries Assistance Program (CFAP).

Both lakes offer outdoor activities such as boating, skiing, swimming, fishing, camping and hiking. Jessica Howell, KDWPT aquatic nuisance species coordinator, reminds lake visitors that everyone using the lakes plays a key role in stemming the spread of mussels to uninfested lakes.

“This situation shows how important it is for boaters, anglers, swimmers and skiers to be aware of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) and to take precautions to prevent their spread,” Howell said.  

There is no known method to completely rid a lake of zebra mussels. Prevention is the best way to avoid spreading ANS. They often travel by “hitchhiking” with unsuspecting lake-goers.

“Always clean, drain and dry boats and other equipment such as skis, life jackets and water toys before using another lake,” Howell said. “Also, don’t transfer lake water or live fish to another body of water. This can help stop the spread of not only zebra mussels, but most aquatic nuisance species that may be present.”

The lakes will be added to the list of ANS-designated waters in Kansas, and notices will be posted at various locations around their shores.

The sharp-shelled zebra mussels attach to solid objects, so lake-goers should be careful when handling mussel-encrusted objects and when grabbing an underwater object when they can’t see what their hands may be grasping. Visitors should protect their feet when walking on underwater or shoreline rocks.

Zebra mussels are just one of the non-native aquatic species that threaten our waters and native wildlife. After using any body of water, people must remember to follow regulations and precautions that will prevent their spread:

  • Clean, drain and dry boats and equipment between uses.
  • Use wild-caught bait only in the lake or pool where it was caught.
  • Do not move live fish from waters infested with zebra mussels or other aquatic nuisance   species.
  • Drain livewells and bilges and remove drain plugs from all vessels prior to transport from   any Kansas water on a public highway.

Note: Local lake users are advised that in Osage County, Pomona Lake and Melvern Lake have been confirmed to have zebra mussels.

For more information about aquatic nuisance species in Kansas, report a possible ANS, or see a list of ANS-designated waters, visit ProtectKSWaters.org.

Information thanks to Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.


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