Invasive Species Threatens Texas Lakes

Zebra Mussels pose a threat to Texas lakes. 12 July 2014
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BRAZOS COUNTY - With all the boaters on area lakes enjoying the summertime, Texas Parks and Wildlife reminds us to keep boats and other watercraft clean…or else.

The signs are everywhere.

Hello invasive species...good bye Texas lakes.

But what's the harm in not following the simple clean, drain, dry, rules?

Turns out, the damage is catastrophic. They're called Zebra Mussels.

"They are an invasive species," said Mike Gore with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

"Once they get started, with today's technology, they're pretty much impossible to eradicate."

They reproduce at an alarming rate.

"Basically it ends up being about a million eggs a year."

That's just for one female. So you can see why they're called invasive.

"They float around until they find a sandy surface or a hard surface to attach to."

They can pollute beaches.

"They are very sharp and they will cut your feet, and so it kind of messes up some of the recreation activities, too."

They can attach to boats as well.

"Mainly boat motors, where the water intake is, bilge pumps, live wells."

All that buildup can clog motors, which boaters know is not a cheap fix.

They've been in Texas lakes since 2009 and while they aren't in the Brazos Valley yet, Texas Parks and Wildlife passed rules effective this month that makes sure boaters are doing their part to prevent the spread of Zebra Mussels.

"It's real easy to go from one lake to another and not think about something this simple."

Clean your boats and other watercraft, drain them thoroughly, and make sure they're dry before returning to other bodies of water.

If you're caught with Zebra Mussels on your boat, the fine is $500 for the first offense and $2,000 for repeated offenses and up to 180 days in jail.

Currently, the mussels have only found their way to 6 Texas lakes, but the new rules from TPWD are designed to prevent the spread to other lakes.

Zebra Mussels pose a threat to Texas lakes. 12 July 2014
Zebra Mussels along the Lake Texoma Shoreline. Submitted photo courtesy of Mike Gore/TPWD
Zebra Mussels pose a threat to boaters if watercraft is not properly dried after use. Submitted photo courtesy of Mike Gore/TPWD