New online ANS voluntary certification course helps water users stem spread of invasive species
PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has confirmed the presence of adult zebra mussels in the Kansas River below Perry Reservoir, as well as downstream, below the Bowersock Dam in Lawrence. KDWP staff had been expecting this since the 2007 discovery of zebra mussels in Perry. Zebra mussel larvae, called "veligers," have been collected in the Kansas River as far downstream as Lawrence since 2008. The first of the adult discoveries was made by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in September near DeSoto, and many others have been found since.

"This poses a problem for all water users, including power generation facilities and municipalities, along the Kansas River due to plugging of intake pipes," says Jason Goeckler, aquatic nuisance species specialist for KDWP. "Those people who use water from the Kansas need to have an action plan in place for how they are going to deal with the mussels in their facilities. All other users need to follow the 'clean, drain, dry' procedure."

The "clean, drain, dry" procedure means cleaning, draining, and drying all equipment — including boats, tackle, waders, and any other equipment used on the water — before moving it from one body of water to another. A detailed procedure for halting the spread of zebra mussels from one infested water to another includes the following:

  • 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 and boat with hot (140-degree) water or dry for at least five days to remove or kill species that are not visible.

To help stem the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species (ANS), KDWP has developed an online study and test site where water users can be wise users when it comes to ANS. Go to the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us, and click "Fishing/Aquatic Nuisance Species" to learn all about these destructive species in Kansas and link to ANS Education Course and Voluntary Certification . Educational information is displayed in video, text, and image form. After reviewing this material, participants can take a quiz with scenario-based questions to test what they've learned. Those who complete the process can then print a certificate proving that they have taken this short course.

The potential impact of zebra mussels on fisheries can be profound. Zebra mussels eat by filtering microscopic food from the water. Young fish and native mussels rely on this same microscopic food to survive.

Economic impacts are as grim as ecosystem impacts. Due to zebra mussels in intake/discharge pipes, municipalities, utilities, and industries have incurred significant costs associated with monitoring, cleaning, and controlling infestations.

Zebra mussels also have sharp shells that can cut the unprotected skin of people and animals. Federal legislation has been passed to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels. If an individual is caught transporting live zebra mussels into Kansas, they may face up to six months in jail and fines up to $5,000.