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Annual Fall Reminder

I know I have mentioned this in previous years about this time.  Good time for another reminder!

Public urged to check boats, lifts, and docks for invasive species

As recreation boating season winds down and waterfowl hunting season ramps up, Nebraskans are urged to check boats, boat lifts and docks for invasive species when removing them from the water.

Waterfowl hunters are encouraged to take special care prior to launching their boats so as not to contribute to the spread of zebra mussels or aquatic invasive plants.

Aquatic hitchhikers like zebra mussels can live up to two weeks out of water, and several lakes across the Midwest are first noticed to be infested by people removing boats, lifts and docks for the winter.

Young zebra mussels – or veligers – are invisible to the naked eye and can be spread through drops of water left undrained. All boat lifts and docks should remain out of the water and dried for 21 days before placing them into another water body.

A zebra mussel is a highly invasive aquatic 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. In addition, these mussels pollute swimming areas with sharp shells and clog water intake pipes needed for hydropower and irrigation.

This year, a private water body near Plattsmouth became the fourth water body in Nebraska to have an established zebra mussel population. The others are Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Yankton, Offutt Base Lake, and the Missouri River downstream of Gavins Point Dam. Neighboring states also have seen an increase in the number of water bodies that have become infested with zebra mussels.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission annually samples more than 40 public waters each month during the summer for early sign of zebra mussels. Game and Parks also employs seasonal inspectors throughout the state to check for invasive species on watercraft. In 2023, more than 4,000 watercraft were inspected statewide. If zebra mussels or other invasive species are found the boat is not allowed to launch.

“In Nebraska we are surrounded by states with increasing zebra mussel water bodies,” said Kristopher Stahr, Game and Parks’ aquatic invasive species program manager. “To keep Nebraska’s waters invasive-free, we really need the public’s help to always Clean, Drain, and Dry watercraft and to report when invasive species are found.”

Game and Parks regulations require anglers, hunters and boaters conduct clean, drain and dry procedures before leaving a water body and are not allowed to arrive at a water body with any water from another water body. Visit stopaquatichitchhikers.org for details and for more information on aquatic invasive species.

Report any suspected observation of zebra mussels or other aquatic invasive species to Game and Parks at 402-471-7602 or at ngpc.ais@nebraska.gov.

A zebra mussel
Look close! Zebra mussels are small.

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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