Previous findings not supported by long-term monitoring

Cheney Reservoir is free of zebra mussels, according to Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) aquatic nuisance species specialist Jason Goeckler. This determination comes following several years of intense monitoring after an independent laboratory in Oklahoma reported finding zebra mussel larvae in the lake.

Microscopic zebra mussel larvae, called veligers, were reportedly found in samples taken from Cheney Reservoir , located 20 miles west of Wichita, in August of 2004. Goeckler and district fisheries biologists conducted additional sampling the following week and every month thereafter and have never found larvae. Samples have also been sent to independent labs and all have been negative. In addition, settling structures, made of PVC and designed to attract adult zebra mussels, were placed in 2003 and continuously monitored, but no adult zebra mussels were found. (Every KDWP-managed lake and reservoir has these settling structures in place.)

Zebra mussels are still a cause for concern in Kansas. They will attach to anything firm, including power plant water intakes, municipal water systems, and boats. They can accumulate 6 inches deep and could smother native mussel beds. Zebra mussels are filter feeders, gleaning tiny particles of organic food, and biologists fear they will deplete food supplies necessary to support native fish populations. The microscopic larvae can live in a teaspoon of water.

Zebra mussels are an exotic transplant native to the Black and Caspian seas in Europe. The name comes from light-colored stripes on the mussels' shells. In North America, they were first found the in the Great Lakes in 1988, apparently carried in the ballast of ships. Adults are fingernail-sized mussels that threaten aquatic ecosystems and industry.

Zebra mussels were found in El Dorado Reservoir in 2003 and quickly became abundant. Just about any hard object placed in the reservoir will become encrusted with zebra mussels in a short time. Shorelines are littered with broken zebra mussel shells, requiring waders and swimmers to wear shoes. While there is no known way to control or eliminate established populations, KDWP has developed education materials for anglers and boaters to prevent the inadvertent spread of zebra mussels to other Kansas waters.

“While the news from Cheney Reservoir is very good,” Goeckler said, “we don’t want our lake users to become complacent. If boaters and anglers are vigilant, we can keep zebra mussels, as well as other nuisance species, from invading other lakes.”

Goeckler recommends the following steps to prevent the spread of zebra mussels:

  • drain bilge water, live wells, and bait buckets;
  • remove any attached vegetation or mud;
  • inspect the boat and trailer for attached zebra mussels, and scrape off any mussels present; and
  • dry boat and trailer for five days, OR wash boat and trailer with 104-degree water, a 10-percent chlorine/water solution, or hot saltwater solution, then finish with clean rinse.

More information on zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species is available here .