LINCOLN – Adult zebra mussels are established along the entire length of the Missouri River in Nebraska, according to recent field inspections conducted by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission aquatic invasive species technicians.
In addition to the presence of these invasive mussels in the river from Gavins Point Dam downstream to the Kansas border, the zebra mussel population in Lewis and Clark Lake has moved farther west on the Nebraska side. Adult mussels have been discovered at the Miller Creek Area boat ramp. In areas on Lewis and Clark where zebra mussels were found last year, their density has greatly increased this summer.
Young zebra mussels are not visible to the naked eye and can be unknowingly transported in a small amount of water, making it important for boaters to clean, drain and dry all watercraft upon leaving any body of water.
Anglers planning to harvest fish are encouraged to bring a cooler with ice for transporting their catch. Boaters are required to drain all water from watercraft, remove any vegetation or mud from the watercraft and trailers, and are encouraged to towel dry any interior area of the boat to speed the drying process. Boat motors should be trimmed up and down to help drain water from lower units.
Boats moored in marinas on waters that have zebra mussels must take additional precautions as mooring in the water will allow mussels to attach to boat hulls. Zebra mussels can also colonize inside boat motors on boats moored in the water, which can cause damage as water flow inside the motor is restricted. All marinas on Lewis and Clark Lake and the Missouri River will be contacted later this summer and zebra mussel decontamination information will be provided to all of their boat slip renters.
Zebra mussels form dense colonies and filter large quantities of plankton from water, decreasing the food supply for native species. They increase water clarity, causing increases in unwanted vegetation. They pollute swimming areas with sharp shells and clog water intake pipes for power and treatment facilities and irrigation pipes.
Learn more about aquatic invasive species and ways to prevent an infestation by visiting neinvasives.com. Contact the Nebraska Invasive Species Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.