Wildlife and Parks working with stakeholders to contain infestation;
lake-user help essential
WICHITA -- The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has confirmed that zebra mussels have been found in Cheney Reservoir. During routine lake inspections, KDWP district fisheries biologist Jon Stein collected three zebra mussel adults. After the initial discovery, KDWP surveyed the lake shoreline in search of more mussels. Zebra mussels were found at many locations around the lake at very low densities.

"It's unfortunate that these mussels have spread to another lake," says Jason Goeckler, aquatic nuisance species specialist for KDWP. "Zebra mussels reproduce rapidly. Once introduced, new populations can expand quickly and cause great damage, both economically and environmentally. They can rapidly attach to and cover any hard structure in water, including native mussels, pipes, water supply structures, rocks, piers, flooded timber, boat hulls, and aquatic motor parts, often clogging them to the point of malfunction. Once zebra mussels become established, they are nearly impossible to eradicate."

The zebra mussel is a fingernail-sized, D-shaped mollusk that typically has a dark and white (zebra-like) pattern on the shell. Since introduction into the United States in 1988, it has rapidly spread from the Great Lakes Region to Midwestern streams. It has been found in El Dorado Reservoir in 2003, Winfield City Lake in 2006, and now Cheney Reservoir. Once zebra mussels were introduced in Kansas, a network of concerned parties was established. KDWP will work with the City of Wichita, the Bureau of Reclamation, and others to ensure an effective management plan is followed.

"KDWP is currently working with the city of Wichita to mitigate the zebra mussel infestation," says Goeckler. "Because this infestation is relatively new, well-informed management actions are necessary to ensure the zebra mussels are not further spread and that the effect to water users can be minimized. Lake users need to be aware of the situation and take precautions when using Cheney Reservoir. It is against state and federal law to possess live zebra mussels, so all lake users need to ensure that they are not moving the mussels out of Cheney Reservoir.”

Zebra mussel larvae are free-floating and microscopic, which enables aquatic users to unknowingly transport them between water bodies. All Cheney Reservoir users must adhere to the following precautions to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels:

  • learn to identify aquatic nuisance species, such as zebra mussels;
  • never move fish or water from one body of water to another;
  • empty bait buckets on dry land, not into lakes;
  • inspect boats, trailers, skis, anchors, and all other equipment and remove any visible organisms and vegetation; and
  • wash equipment with hot (140-degree) water, a 10-percent chlorine and water solution, or dry for at least five days to remove or kill species that are not visible. Phone 620-342-0658 or email jasong@wp.state.ks.us if any nuisance species are found.

For general information about zebra mussels, visit the KDWP website and type "zebra mussels" in the search box.