MARQUETTE — During a periodic inspection and dewatering of the outlet works at Kanopolis Reservoir on Sept. 26, officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discovered an adult zebra mussel in the stilling basin. The discovery marks the 14th Kansas reservoir infested by this invasive species.
KDWPT aquatic nuisance species biologist Jason Goeckler says the spread can be prevented. “Some of the recent discoveries in eastern Kansas reservoirs were expected because zebra mussels naturally move downstream from infested lakes,” Goeckler explained. “Like the infestation at Melvern Reservoir earlier in the year, the introduction to Kanopolis could have been prevented. We can and must work together to prevent further spread of aquatic nuisance species. Lake users need to take a few minutes to follow the basic clean, drain, and dry precautions.”
Zebra mussel colonies quickly become quite dense, attaching to any hard surface, including native mussels, crayfish, turtles, boats, docks, as well as water intake structures. They even attach to other zebra mussels, creating layered colonies up to 6 inches thick.
Adult zebra mussels are filter feeders, and an infestation can dramatically disrupt a lake’s food chain by removing plankton native fish rely on. KDWPT biologists have documented decreases in body condition and abundance in several game fish species after zebra mussel infestations. Zebra mussel feeding habits may also increase the potential for blue-green algae blooms, which can be toxic to humans and animals. Dense colonies of zebra mussels make wading and swimming along shorelines dangerous because of their sharp shells. When zebra mussels die, the odor and shell fragments that wash up make any shoreline activities unpleasant.
Goeckler reminds all anglers and boaters to remember three simple rules: CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY. Inspect vessels for any zebra mussels before leaving the boat ramp area. Drain all water from the boat’s livewell, baitwell, and sump area. Drain any bait buckets, as well — never pour live bait into the lake; dispose of it on land. Dry the boat and trailer for at least five days before putting them in another lake, or wash the boat and trailer with 140-degree water.
All un-infested Kansas waters are under continual zebra mussel surveillance by KDWPT staff. For more information about aquatic nuisance species, go to www.kdpwt.state.ks.us and click on the “STOP AQUATIC HITCHHIKERS” window on the lower right side of the homepage.