Invasive zebra mussels found in Canyon Lake

Zebra mussels (Daniel Guerrero/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Zebra mussels, an invasive species, have now been identified in Canyon Lake, which is now the southernmost affected lake in Texas.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said they confirmed the mussels in Canyon Lake on June 8 when an employee at Canyon Lake Marina noticed the mussels while working on a boat. Although zebra mussels were first discovered in Texas in 2009, this is the first documentation of the mussels anywhere in the Guadalupe River Basin.

The problem lies in the fact that the mussels reproduce rapidly; therefore, they can have serious economic, environmental and recreational impacts on Texas reservoirs and rivers. Now, all of the reservoirs downstream of Canyon Lake are now at risk of invasion as the larvae disband downstream. The larvae are microscopic and adults and larvae can survive for days in or on boats transported from a lake. Once they have infiltrated a body of water, there is nothing that can be done. There is no known way to get rid of them.

“Although marina staff have intercepted several incoming boats over the years that had invasive mussels attached, it is essential that boats stored on infested lakes be decontaminated before they’re moved as they are a key pathway for spreading this invasive species,” said Brian Van Zee, Inland Fisheries regional director for TPWD.

Currently, 10 lakes in four river basins are now classified as infested, meaning they have an established, reproducing population – Belton, Bridgeport, Dean Gilbert (a 45-acre Community Fishing Lake in Sherman), Eagle Mountain, Lewisville, Randell, Ray Roberts, Stillhouse Hollow, Texoma and now Canyon. Luckily, no none of the Highland Lakes have been affected.

By law, boaters are required to drain all of the water from their boat and onboard receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of freshwater. Then, boaters must clean and dry their boats. These rules apply to all types of boats, whether they are powered or not. First incident fines can reach up to $500.

Lake Travis boater, Jon Adams, knows the mussels aren’t a threat in that body of water yet, but he knows their potential danger and makes sure his boat is inspected.

“The battery under here, water can splash into it, so I just make sure to hose things down. Why would you want to mess it up when you got such a great lake. It just takes like 30 minutes,” Adams says.

“We know that Texans love their lakes and rivers and by taking these three simple steps they do a lot of good toward helping prevent further spread of invasive species in our state,” said Van Zee.

More information about zebra mussels can be found online at tpwd.texas.gov/ZebraMussels.

Zebra Mussel status - June 2017.
Zebra Mussel status – June 2017.

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