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How you can help stop aquatic hitchhikers in the Ozarks

(KY3)
Published: Jun. 17, 2018 at 6:38 PM CDT
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Before you leave the lake, it's important to make sure that you haven't picked up any hitchhikers or invasive species. Pam Price, owner of Fellows Lake Marina, said that some invasive species like these zebra muscles can even be smaller than your finger nail.

"I think that was the biggest "aha" for me was the size because I thought, "oh, zebra muscles, they must be huge!" And they're so tiny. But I think that's one off the things that's most disruptive. And then the fact that one female can produce 1,000,000 eggs a year is just unbelievable," Price said.

So, even though these mussels are small, they're invading in the millions. And they can not only can be disruptive to the lake's ecosystem, but could also mean bad news for your boat.

"They can completely encrust the prop on their boat. and cause it not to run. so, it's important for the boater that they make sure that their boat is clean. They can actually get inches thick on props and bottoms of boats," Price said.

And if you have leftover bait, don't think that you're doing the fish a favor by dumping it into the lake.

"If one of these would happen to be in the water of the bait, and you dump it in, then it can reproduce rapidly. And a lot of bait is an invasive species. So, you don't want it taking over the lake's ecosystem and harming the fish that are supposed to be there," Price said.

The Department of Conservation & City Utilities come out and check Fellows Lake regularly for native species. The best thing that you can do for the boat as well as the ecosystem here out at the lake is make sure that you are rinsing off your boat with hot water and throwing away your bait instead of dumping it back into the water.

If you would like to learn more about invasive species like zebra mussels, here are a few links from the Department of Conservation: https://mdc.mo.gov/wildlife/nuisance-problem-species/invasive-species/zebra-mussel-control or https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/zebra-mussel.