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Young zebra mussels detected at Cunningham Lake

LINCOLN, Neb. – Microscopic young zebra mussels, known as veligers, recently were detected by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in a water sample collected at Glenn Cunningham Lake in late May. No adult zebra mussels were found in the lake.

Field sampling for adult zebra mussels will be completed on the Omaha lake’s boat ramps, rocks and other hard structures over the next several weeks. Until an adult is found, Glenn Cunningham Lake will be considered a suspect water body.

Each year, larval sampling takes place twice a month starting in May. All suspect water bodies have five samples collected in May and June and two per month in July, August and September. If no adults or additional larvae are found after three years of sampling, the lake will be delisted. The lake will be listed as an infested water body if an adult zebra mussel is found.

The Missouri River has an expanding zebra mussel population along its entire length downstream of Gavins Point Dam. Boats using the river are the likely source of introduction. Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Yankton and the Offutt Base Lake are the only Nebraska waters that have established zebra mussel populations. Omaha’s Zorinsky Lake and Carter Lake are suspect water bodies, but no adult zebra mussels have been found at either reservoir.

It is important not to transport any lake or river water, mud, or plant material away from its source as that could transport aquatic invasive species to another water body. Young zebra mussels are too small to see with the naked eye, so they can be transported unintentionally with water in bilges, outboard motors, live wells and bait buckets. Adults can attach to boats, trailers and aquatic vegetation.

Boaters and anglers are encouraged to follow the Clean, Drain and Dry protocol to prevent the spread of zebra mussels. Visit neinvasives.com for details.

A zebra mussel is an aquatic invasive species that looks like a D-shaped clam, with alternating light and dark bands. Most zebra mussels are less than an inch long. They form dense colonies and filter large quantities of plankton from water, decreasing the food supply for native species. Mussels increase water clarity, causing increases in unwanted vegetation. In addition, these mussels create a hazard on swimming areas with their sharp shells, and they clog water intake pipes.

There are no effective treatments to control zebra mussels once they have infested a water body other than draining it to allow the mussels to either dry out or freeze.

For more information about zebra mussels, visit neinvasives.com or read the 2018 Nebraska Fishing Guide. Report any suspected observation of zebra mussels to Game and Parks at 402-471-5553.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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