AUSTIN, Texas — Zebra mussels, an invasive species that has found its way into Central Texas waterways over the years, has now been spotted in Lake Lyndon B. Johnson and Lake Pflugerville, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Texas Parks and Wildlife and a Lower Colorado River Authority biologist confirmed about a dozen zebra mussels were located near the Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant in Horseshoe Bay.
Zebra mussels are expected to spread downstream from Lake LBJ into Lake Marble Falls where the species has not been reported.
Lake Pflugerville, a water supply reservoir located northeast of Austin, is also now infested with zebra mussels. TPWD confirmed the presence of zebra mussels at the lake after Inland Fisheries staff found adult zebra mussels attached to aquatic vegetation during a routine survey.
As of August, there are 17 Texas lakes that are now classified as infested with reproducing population of zebra mussels, including Lake LBJ and Lake Pflugerville. A status map and full list of these lakes can be found on the TPWD website.
“There is currently no effective way to selectively control or eliminate zebra mussels once they get established in a public lake,” said Mukhtar Farooqi, TPWD inland fisheries biologist. “This highlights the importance of clean, drain, dry as our best line of defense for reducing the spread of zebra mussels into new lakes.”
Monica McGarrity with TPWD is advising boaters to do their part in limiting the spread of zebra mussels.
“It is disheartening to see zebra mussels spreading higher up the chain of the Highland Lakes in the Colorado River basin, as only boats can move this invasive species upstream to uninvaded reservoirs and downstream dispersal is inevitable,” said McGarrity. “Zebra mussels haven’t yet been found in Lakes Buchanan and Inks, upstream of Lake LBJ, but their introduction closer to these lakes reinforces how critical it is for boaters to take steps to prevent their spread.”
She said it is crucial that boaters clean, drain and dry their boat and gear before traveling to different lakes.
McGarrity also advises boat owners or marina workers to reach out to TPWD "if you store a boat in the water on a lake with zebra mussels or work at a marina where boats are stored" to make sure that "proper decontamination procedures are being followed before any vessel is moved."
A single mussel-fouled boat or barge can carry thousands of zebra mussels and cause a new lake to become infested, according to McGarrity.
In Texas, it is unlawful to possess or transport zebra mussels, dead or alive. Boaters are required to drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water to prevent the transfer of zebra mussels and other invasive species.
The requirement to drain applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not – personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks, canoes or any other vessel used on public waters.
If you see zebra mussels in Texas lakes that have not reported having the species or if they are found on boats or equipment being moved, TPWD ask you report sightings at 512-389-4848 or by emailing photos and location information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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