The Zebra mussel is a non-native highly invasive aquatic species that multiplies rapidly and can cause tremendous environmental and economic damage.
Zebra mussels can spread easily. They have the ability to attach to the hulls of boats, trailers, live-wells, and motor cooling systems. People who do not realize that a zebra mussel has attached itself to their boat or boat trailer will transport the creature to other places where the zebra mussel will detach and begin to multiply.
Know the law: Possession or transportation of zebra mussels in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor for the first offense, punishable with a fine of up to $500. A second offense is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $2000, a jail sentence of up to 180 days or both.
Introducing zebra mussels into Texas public waters is a Class B misdemeanor.
Zebra mussels are known to have caused serious declines in population of fish, birds and native mussel species and can disrupt a city’s entire water supply system by colonizing inside the pipelines and restricting the flow of water. Zebra mussels can also damage boat hulls, plug water systems used in boat motors, air conditioners and heads and cause navigation buoys to sink.
You can help prevent the spread. Before leaving any water suspected of having zebra mussels, you should ALWAYS:
- Clean and inspect your boat, trailer and gear and remove any zebra mussel, vegetation or foreign objects found. Wash your boat, trailer and any gear that was in the water thoroughly; ideally at a commercial carwash or using a high pressure sprayer with hot soapy water. Water above 140 degrees F° will kill the zebra mussels and the high pressure was will help remove them. If your boat has internal operating systems (engine cooling, air conditioning, head, etc.) that take up water from the lake, it may require the services of a marina or boat mechanic to ensure all zebra mussels are removed and to help prevent damage to your boat.
- Before leaving the lake, drain all water from boat, including the engine, bilge, live-wells and bait buckets.
- Dry all compartments and live-wells and allow the boat and trailer to sit completely dry for a week or more before entering another water body.
Originally from the Balkans, Poland and the former Soviet Union, zebra mussels are firmly established in Europe and have invaded much of the United States. Each year millions of dollars are spent to control, clean and monitor zebra mussels in other states. Zebra mussels are now threatening Texas waters. On April 2009, the first adult zebra mussel in Texas waters was confirmed in Lake Texoma. Invasive zebra mussels were also found in a stream that feeds into Lake Lavon. Experts fear they could spread throughout the Red and Trinity River systems as well as much of Texas if residents don’t take action. Both river systems extend southward to the Gulf of Mexico.
Fore more general information about zebra mussels please visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website