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Zebra mussels have “fully infested” this Austin Lake


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) said that Lake Walter E. Long in Travis County is now infested with zebra mussels.

The infestation signifies the mussels have an established population and are reproducing in the lake, the department explained in a press release Wednesday.

TPWD said they detected zebra mussel larvae in the lake in October 2018 and May 2019. but in later searches, including in 2021, the department did not find any juveniles or adults. Then, this month, they said biologists from the City of Austin Watershed Protection found two adult zebra mussels in the lake while conducting shoreline searches. That, they said, indicates the presence of an established zebra mussel population.

The department also said that a private-access lake in Medina County is also now fully infested, likely due to being downstream of another fully-infested lake.

“Unfortunately, zebra mussels have now spread to 34 Texas lakes, with 30 now fully infested, but there are far more lakes in Texas that still haven’t been invaded and are at risk,” said Brian Van Zee, TPWD Inland Fisheries Regional Director in the press release.

Since zebra mussels are usually transported on or in boats, Van Zee added that boaters should clean and drain their boats before leaving the lake and allow everything to dry when they get home to help protect other lakes from becoming infested.

Zebra mussels can also attach to anything left in the water and hide in crevices, said the TPWD, including anchors, and can survive for days out of water.

“Their larvae are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye, meaning they can be unknowingly transported by boats in residual water,” the TWPD release said.

TPWD said not only can invasive species hurt aquatic ecosystems, but they can also impact water infrastructure and lake activities like swimming.

They also said transporting these mollusks can get boaters in legal trouble in Texas, punishable with a fine of up to $500 per violation. TPWD also reminds everyone that it’s the law for boaters to drain all water from their boat and any receptacles on board, like bait buckets, before leaving or going to a body of fresh water.

“They must also remove all invasive plants from the boat, trailer, and tow vehicle before leaving a lake,” the department added in their press release.

TPWD said if you have stored your boat in a lake with zebra mussels, your boat is likely infested and at “an extremely high risk” for spreading the invasive species to a new lake. They urge you to call TPWD for help on how to decontaminate your boat by calling (512) 389-4848.

You can also find more information on how to clean, drain, and dry your boat and equipment on the TPWD YouTube channel here, and learn more about zebra mussels and other invasive species in Texas here.

If you find zebra mussels or other invasive species in a Texas lake or spot them on a boat or trailer, TPWD said you can report the sighting to TPWD at (512) 389-4848 or by emailing photos and location information to [email protected]


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