Zebra mussels found in Hillsdale Reservoir

Invasive, sharp-shelled mollusks are among the state’s most unwanted species

050814-zebraTOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Hillsdale Reservoir, in Miami County, Kan. On Wednesday, June 15, an alert angler found an adult zebra mussel at the Wade Branch of the reservoir and took it to the Hillsdale State Park Office. KDWPT aquatic nuisance species staff subsequently found more zebra mussels on rocks and trees in the same area. The population appears to be low density at this time, however, there is no known method to completely rid a lake of zebra mussels.

Hillsdale Reservoir is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and KDWPT manages the fishery. The lake consists of 4,580 surface acres and has a maximum depth of 57 feet. The state park and the lake are popular destinations and offer a variety of recreational activities such as boating, skiing, swimming, fishing, camping and hiking.

Everyone using the lake plays a key role in stemming the spread of mussels to uninfested lakes.

“Since zebra mussel larvae, or veligers, are microscopic and undetectable to the naked eye, all users of Kansas lakes need to be aware that transfer of water between lakes can lead to further infestations,” said Jeff Koch, KDWPT aquatic research biologist.

Prevention is the best way to avoid spreading aquatic nuisance species. They often travel by “hitchhiking” with unsuspecting lake-goers.

“We encourage anyone who recreates on Kansas lakes to clean, drain, and dry their boats and equipment before using another lake,” Koch said. “Additionally, don’t transfer lake water or live fish into another body of water, as this is a main transport vector of all aquatic nuisance species.”

Hillsdale Reservoir and Bull Creek from the reservoir south to the Marais des Cygnes River will be added to the list of aquatic nuisance species-designated waters in Kansas, and notices will be posted at various locations around the reservoir. Live fish may not be transported from aquatic nuisance species-designated waters. 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 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 live wells and bilges and remove drain plugs from all vessels prior to transport from any Kansas water on a public highway.

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

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


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