Critter of the Month: Zebra and Quagga Mussels

Zebra Mussel and Quagga Mussels

Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga (D. bugensis) mussels cost the U.S. economy up to 1 billion dollars each year. They are prolific invaders that cost the U.S. billions of dollars each year. These small mussels from Eurasia can clog water intakes and damage equipment by attaching to boat motors and hard surfaces. They can damage ecosystems by harming fisheries, smothering native mussels and crayfish, and littering beaches with their sharp shells. In the late 1980s, zebra mussels spread from Europe to the Great Lakes in contaminated ballast water discharged from foreign ships. From there, they expanded to the Mississippi River, its tributaries, and to inland lakes. Zebra mussels spread primarily by attaching to boat hulls, aquatic plants, nets fishing equipment, or in water. Adult zebra mussels can survive out of water for days under certain conditions. Your actions are vital to prevent their spread.

What you can do to help:

*Learn to recognize Zebra and Quagga Mussels.

* Inspect and remove visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from boat, motors and trailers before transport.

* Drain lake or river water from bilge, livewell and motor before leaving access.

* Dispose of unwanted live bait, worms and fish parts in the trash.

* Never dump live fish or live bait into another body of water. If it didn’t start in there it doesn’t belong in there, take it back with you.

* Rinse boat and equipment with high pressure, hot water, AND/OR

* Dry everything for a minimum of five days or more before reuse.

* Report suspected new sightings – not exact location; wrap a plant/animal/mussel fragment in a wet paper towel, place in a sealed plastic bag; and call the Minnesota Sea Grant Program in Duluth, (210-726-8712; or a Minnesota DNR Invasive Species Specialist (see www.mndnr.gov/invasives/contacts.html), 1-888-MINNDNR or (651) 259-5100.

Reminder: Know the rules!

Specimens are needed to confirm sightings, but some jurisdictions prohibit possession and transport of invasive aquatic plants and animals. Unauthorized introduction of plants, fish, or invertebrates into the wild is illegal. Protect your property and our waters.

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