Time for a Reminder

May 22, 2024 daryl bauer

The kickoff of summer is here.  Our waters will be busy again this year, and everyone has a part to play!

As zebra mussels creep closer, Game and Parks urges boaters to Clean, Drain and Dry

While Nebraskans can expect to see many boaters on the lakes this Memorial Day weekend, they also can expect to find Nebraska Game and Parks staff inspecting boats for invasive zebra mussels.

Zebra mussels are a small, D-shaped clam with alternating light and dark bands across the shell. They can be as small as a pencil eraser. These non-native mussels can cause damage to Nebraska’s ecosystems and economy once established. They form dense colonies, filtering nutrients from the water that native species need to survive. The mussels also can pollute swimming beaches with their sharp shells and damage public and private infrastructure.

Zebra mussels primarily are spread by boaters and anglers by “hitchhiking” on and inside watercraft and angling equipment. Veligers, or zebra mussel larvae, are microscopic and can survive in a single drop of water for several days. Adult mussels can live out of water for up to a month.

To stop zebra mussels’ spread, it’s important to ensure boating and angling equipment have been cleaned inside and out, drained of standing water, and allowed to dry completely before entering another water body.

“The battle against zebra mussels is more important now than ever,” said Kristopher Stahr, Game and Parks’ aquatic invasive species program manager. “Nebraska is fortunate in that we currently don’t have widespread zebra mussel infestations across our state, but we are under increased threat from surrounding waters.”

In 2023, Beaver Lake, a private lake near Plattsmouth, became Nebraska’s fifth water body with an established zebra mussel population, joining Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Yankton, the Missouri River, and Offutt Air Force Base Lake. Surrounding states, including South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas, have faced increasing zebra mussel spread in recent years.

Game and Parks staff will conduct boat inspections at boat ramps statewide this summer. Nearly 10,000 boat inspections have been completed in the past two years, protecting Nebraska’s waters from zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species like Eurasian watermilfoil, curlyleaf pondweed, white perch, and invasive carp.

Visit stopaquatichitchhikers.org for more details on the Clean, Drain, Dry Procedure and OutdoorNebraska.gov/aquaticinvasivespecies for information about invasive species in Nebraska.

The public is encouraged to 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.


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