AUSTIN – Invasive zebra mussels that are known to harm wildlife have now infested three more lakes -- Lake Brownwood, Inks Lake and Medina Lake -- according to Texas Parks and Wildlife officials.
TPWD announced Thursday that there is “an established, reproducing population of zebra mussels” in these lakes, in the Colorado and San Antonio River Basins, and that the mussels were detected in a recent sampling.
The zebra mussels in Lake Brownwood and Medina Lake are “fully established and reproducing,” and the new infestation is in Inks Lake, wildlife officials said.
“As zebra mussels are continuing to spread westward and southward to new areas in Texas and as those lakes become fully infested, nearby lakes have an increased risk of being invaded and it is vital that boaters take steps to clean, drain, and dry boats to help slow the spread. Boats owned or recently purchased that have been stored in the water must be decontaminated before moving them to another lake to prevent the spread of these highly invasive mussels,” said Monica McGarrity, a senior scientist for aquatic invasive species, in a release.
These mussels were first detected in plankton samples collected in November at Lake Brownwood, near Flat Rock Park and Lake Brownwood State Park, according to the TWPD. After multiple sightings of the mussels within the lake, it is now “fully invested,” wildlife officials said.
Lake Placid, near Seguin, has also been designated as “fully invested,” according to a previous KSAT report. Zebra mussel larvae and a single adult were first detected there in May 2019.
TPWD officials said the invasive species has already spread to 32 Texas lakes, and most of them are “fully invested.”
“Unfortunately, zebra mussels have now spread to 32 Texas lakes, with 27 fully infested, but there are far more lakes that still haven’t been invaded and are at risk. Each boater taking steps to clean and drain their boat before leaving the lake and allowing compartments and gear to dry completely when they get home can make a big difference to protect our Texas lakes,” said TPWD Inland Fisheries Regional Director Brian Van Zee.
Boaters play a significant role in the spread of these mussels to new lakes, but there are steps they can take to help prevent the infestations, according to wildlife officials.
Officials said boaters can help stop the spread by removing debris from their boats, draining water and allowing gear to dry out.
“Their larvae are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye and can be unknowingly transported in residual water in boats. Boaters are urged to clean, drain and dry their boats and gear before traveling from lake to lake. Remove plants, mud and debris, drain all the water from the boat and gear, and then open up compartments once you get home and allow everything to dry completely for at least a week if possible,” said TWPD in a release.
According to TexasInvasives.org, boaters could face a $500 fine for the transportation or possession of zebra mussels if they do not clean, drain and dry their boats.
TPWD is tracking the spread of the mussels in many Texas lakes. To see where they’ve been detected, you can view the department’s map here.