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Texas waterfowl hunters can help stop spread of invasive species

Giant salvinia and zebra mussels can spread from lake to lake unless boats are properly cleaned

A mallard duck takes to flight after feeding in a small pond, Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Water Works Park in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
A mallard duck takes to flight after feeding in a small pond, Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Water Works Park in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials say waterfowl hunters can help prevent the spread of invasive species in the Lone Star State.

Giant salvinia and zebra mussels are both invasive species that can be found in Texas waters and TPWD officials say it’s imperative that waterfowl hunters clean, drain and dry boats and equipment before traveling from lake to lake in an effort to avoid spreading the species further.

“Giant salvinia is often thought of as a plant that blocks recreational access for anglers and boaters, but it can cause serious problems for waterfowl hunters too,” TPWD Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Team Lead John Findeisen said. “Not only does it form thick mats that block access for hunters to prime waterfowl hunting areas, it can also outgrow and replace the native plants that waterfowl rely on for food and habitat.”

Zebra mussels, which can currently be found in 30 Texas reservoirs across five different river basins, litter shorelines with sharp shells, impact recreation, harm aquatic life, damage boats and clog water intakes, according to TPWD officials.

TPWD Senior Scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species Management, Monica McGarrity, said taking a few minutes to clean, drain and dry boats and equipment “can help prevent impacts on ecosystems, infrastructure, and recreation and make a huge difference in our efforts to protect and preserve Texas lakes for future generations.”

Equipment like waders, decoys, decoy bags, and marsh sleds should also be cleaned as they can carry the species from one body of water to another.

Transportation of aquatic invasive species can result in legal trouble for hunters including fines up to $500 per violation.

Important dates from TPWD:

  • Oct. 24 - Special youth-only duck season begins in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit
  • Oct. 31 - Youth-only duck season begins in the South Zone
  • Oct. 31 - Regular duck season in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit opens
  • Nov. 7 - Youth-only duck season begins in the North Zone
  • Nov. 7 - Regular duck season in the South Zone opens
  • Nov. 14 - Regular duck season in the North Zone opens

Other season dates by waterfowl species can be found in the Outdoor Annual.

While TPWD officials monitor for invasive species in Texas lakes, anyone who spots invasive species in areas they have not been seen before, or who spots them on boats, trailers or equipment that is being moved, is asked to report the sighting to TPWD at 512-389-4848 or by emailing photos and location information to aquaticinvasives@tpwd.texas.gov.

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