PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in the Jeffery Energy Center Make-Up Lake, 6 miles east of St. Marys. KDWP fisheries biologist Ely Sprenkle was checking his zebra mussel monitoring devices the week of May 23 when he discovered three small zebra mussels attached to the PVC sampler.

“The discovery of a newly infested lake is always a difficult thing,” said Jason Goeckler, aquatic nuisance specialist for KDWP, “but in this case, staff was prepared for the discovery. Upstream infestations at Milford and Wilson reservoirs guaranteed spread because Jeffery Energy Center make-up water comes directly from the Kansas River. This brings the total number of zebra mussel infested lakes in Kansas to 11. We anticipate three more lakes to be added to the list later this summer because they are downstream of known infestations.”

Three simple steps — clean, drain, and dry — can help prevent the spread of mussels. Anglers and boaters must take these precautions to avoid transporting mussels from infested lakes to other waters:

  • 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.

Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian Sea in Europe and were introduced to the Great Lakes from the ballasts of ships in the1980s. They have now been confirmed in seven Kansas waters, beginning with El Dorado in 2003. Others include Cheney, Winfield City Lake, Marion, Perry, and Lake Afton. Zebra mussels are a problem because they filter water, up to a liter a day, to eat plankton. Although this filtering action may clear up the water, clear water does NOT mean clean water and the clear water zebra mussels leave behind will often lead to algal blooms that are harmful to people. The clear water can also let UV rays damage fish eggs laid during the spawn. Larval fish and native mussels rely on this same plankton to survive. Zebra mussels also clog pipes by forming colonies inside of the pipes. Nationwide expenditures to control zebra mussels in electric generating plants are estimated at $145 million/year. In addition, zebra mussels also have sharp shells that cut the unprotected skin of people and pets.

If an individual is caught transporting live zebra mussels in Kansas, they may face up to six months in jail and fines up to $5,000. More information on zebra mussels and strategies to contain their spread, including an instructive video, is available at the KDWP website, Click "Fishing/Aquatic Nuisance Species" and then click on the picture of the zebra mussel.