Residents of south-central Iowa are facing the potential of an invasive outsider that’s been known to rapidly multiply and take over everything it its path. It’s not a Halloween story, but a real life scenario as an estimate 100 adult zebra mussels were found on a bout at a marina on Lake Rathbun.
Kim Bogenschutz of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says they don’t know for sure how much damage has been done. She says the boat came from the Mississippi River, so they believe the mussels may’ve been in the lake all summer long. Bogenschutz says it’s too early to know if the mussels might have started a population in the lake and will start monitoring it. Bogenschutz says the zebra mussels raised concern because they can take over a water body.
Bogenschutz says one female can produce one-million eggs a year, and they are filter feeders that compete with other native filter feeders in the lake such as native mussels and small fish. The zebra mussels also attach to hard structures such as dock and water pipes. The zebra mussels can kill off native species as well as clog pipes and cause all sorts of damage.
Bogenschutz says they’ve set out traps designed to see if the "veliger" or baby mussels are in the lake. She says the small mussels float throughout the water and then settle on structures, so it could take a couple of years to see if they’re there. Bogenschutz says the rural water district and fish hatchery will also be looking for the mussels.
Bogenschutz says there’s no way of stopping the spread of the mussels once the get into a body of water. Bogenschutz says there’s nothing to control them, and preventing the spread to other water bodies is the best means of control. Bogenschutz says this is are reason why it’s important that people heed the warnings of transporting invasive species across the state.
Bogenschutz says it’s important for boat owners of any type to be diligent about cleaning off their boats and equipment when going from one water body to another. .The D.N.R. estimates some 800,000 people visit Lake Rathbun each year for fishing, water skiing, boating and camping. For more information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters can be found in the Iowa Fishing Regulations booklet and on line at the D.N.R website .