Missouri: New tests find no zebra mussels at Pomme de Terre Lake

Boaters and anglers play critical roles in
preventing the spread of aquatic invasive
species

HERMITAGE Mo – Follow-up testing at Pomme de Terre
Lake has given the southwest Missouri lake a clean bill of health
regarding zebra mussels. State officials say the news emphasizes
the important role boaters and anglers play in preventing the
spread of these invasive mollusks.

Laboratory testing of water samples collected by the Missouri
Department of Conservation (MDC) in spring 2009 detected the
free-swimming, microscopic larval form of zebra mussels, called
veligers, from three sample sites in the 7,820-acre lake.

In fall 2009 and again in 2010, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
(USACE) collected additional water samples at Pomme de Terre Lake
for testing. Zebra mussels were not detected.

Based on contradictory sampling results in 2009 and 2010, MDC and
USACE cooperatively conducted independent sampling at Pomme de
Terre Lake in June (2011). MDC and USACE samples were sent to
separate laboratories for testing. Zebra mussels were not detected
in any of the 2011 samples from either agency.

The 2009 finding prompted MDC and the COE, which owns the lake, to
put up signs cautioning visitors to Pomme de Terre to clean boats
and trailers before moving them from the lake to other waters. They
extended the education campaign to the 56,000-acre Harry S. Truman
Reservoir, another COE lake downstream from Pomme de Terre.

With Pomme de Terre now found free of zebra mussels, the agencies
remind boaters and anglers of the importance of preventing the
spread of invasive aquatic species.

“With test results showing Pomme de Terre free of zebra mussels, it
is now even more important that boaters and anglers take
precautions to keep it that way,” said MDC Invasive Species
Coordinator Tim Banek.

The zebra mussel is native to Eurasia. It hitched a ride to North
America in the 1980s, arriving in the Great Lakes in the ballast
tanks of oceangoing ships. Since then, the thumbnail-sized invader
has leapfrogged across much of the continent on commercial and
pleasure boats, whose owners unwittingly transported the mollusks
when trailering boats from one body of water to another.

Female zebra mussels can produce a million offspring annually. They
attach to any solid surface, sometimes several layers deep. They
interfere with the natural food chain, making lakes and streams
less productive for sport fish and replacing native animals.

Heavy zebra mussel infestations can weigh down docks, buoys and
other marine equipment. Infestations on boat hulls increase water
drag, leading to higher fuel and maintenance costs. They can clog
marine engines’ cooling systems, creating a danger of damage due to
overheating.

Zebra mussels also drive up utility bills by clogging water intakes
of public and private utilities. Keeping those pipes open requires
millions of dollars of maintenance annually.

“We don’t know exactly what changes might occur, but other areas
where zebra mussels have taken hold have experienced ecological
changes that were bad for fishing and tourism,” said Banek.
“Missourians can avoid spreading zebra mussels with some reasonably
simple precautions.”

Banek urges boaters to remember three points:

Clean – Remove all plants, animals and mud, and thoroughly wash
everything, especially live wells, crevices and other hidden areas.
Wash boat bilges, trailers, motor drive units and live wells with
hot water at least 104 degrees. Most commercial car washers meet
this standard.

Drain – Eliminate all water before leaving the area, including live
wells, bilge and engine cooling water.

Dry – Allow boats and other equipment to dry in the sun for at
least five days before launching in other waters.

Anglers can also avoid spreading zebra mussels and other invasive
pests by obtaining live bait locally and disposing of leftover bait
properly.

“Even things as seemingly harmless as earthworms and crayfish can
be trouble,” said Banek. “Some commercial bait comes from as far
away as Canada. If you catch minnows in one place and take them
somewhere else to fish, you could be transporting invasive Asian
carp species without knowing it. Get your bait where you plan to
fish, and put leftover bait in a trash container headed for the
nearest landfill before leaving your fishing area. Never toss live
bait into a lake or stream to feed the fish.”

For more information on zebra mussels and other invasive species,
visit www.missouriconservation.org.

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