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Texas lakes 'fully infested' with invasive zebra mussels

Boaters are urged to clean, drain and dry their boats to help stop the spread of the invasive species.

TEXAS, USA — Another Texas lake is now listed as "fully infested" with zebra mussels, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Lake Walter E. Long in the Austin area is the latest of the 30 Texas lakes fully infested, with zebra mussels spreading to four more.

TPWD said the infestation is new because as recently as 2021, no adult or juvenile mussels were detected despite finding larvae in the lake back in 2018 and 2019.

You can check what lakes in the state of Texas are known to have zebra mussels through the Texas Invasives website.

Why are zebra mussels invasive?

While small, the zebra mussels impact ecosystems negatively in many ways.

The striped, fingernail-sized mussels attach themselves to other mussels and paralyze them. They also filter out the algae that native species need for food and can cost millions to remove from clogged water intakes. They're especially dangerous to wildlife when in groups.

RELATED: 'Invasive' Australian crawfish found in Texas, TPWD says

How to prevent the spread of zebra mussels

Boaters are urged to clean, drain and dry their boats and gears when traveling from lake to lake. Everything should be allowed to dry for at least a week, if possible.

Those who store their boats in the water at infested lakes are at high risk of spreading those invasive species to a new lake. They can hide on boats and their larvae are small enough to go undetected.

TPWD wants to remind boaters that spreading invasive species is illegal and punishable with a fine of up to $500 for every violation.

Several states like Oklahoma and South Dakota are ramping up prevention efforts, but since prevention varies in cost and form, South Dakota has added sticker fees for boat registration and add-ons to fishing licenses.

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