Tis the season for checking under your boats and piers for zebra mussels

Post by Jenny Seifert, UWEX outreach specialist 

Own a boat or pier? As you remove them this fall for their winter hibernation, don’t forget to check them for aquatic invasive species and report any findings. This simple step is part of the important role you play in preventing the spread of non-native plants and animals that can harm Wisconsin’s environment and economy.

Of particular concern are zebra mussels, which will often be attached docks and piers after a summer under water . The Wisconsin DNR is once again calling on citizens and contractors to keep an eye out for these striped mollusks.

Zebra mussels attached to a floating dock.

Zebra mussels attached to a floating dock. Credit: Sandy Kemsley (Credstive Commons)

Zebra mussels are only in approximately 250 lakes and rivers in Wisconsin, While currently uncommon, once established, zebra mussels can disrupt the food web and suppress the growth and survival of fish. They also cling to docks, pier legs, boats, anchors and other submerged equipment, and clog water intakes, potentially causing damage.

Inspecting your equipment as you remove it for the season is essential for quick action to keep zebra mussels at bay. In addition to a visual check, make sure to feel along smooth surfaces for a sandpapery texture, as juvenile mussels are often invisible to the naked eye.

If you find (or feel) any zebra mussels or other invasive species, take these steps:

  • Check the DNR website to see if the species has not already been found in the waterbody.
  • Note the exact location where you found them.
  • Take a photo of them in the setting where they were found, if possible.
  • Collect up to five specimens of varying sizes, place them in a jar with water and get them to a refrigerator, putting them on ice in transport, if possible.
  • Contact your local lake biologist and deliver the specimens.

While the Wisconsin DNR and partners are monitoring hundreds of lakes and rivers every year for invasive species like zebra mussels, the more people on the lookout, the quicker the DNR can respond to a new invasion. Speed is critical for guiding management decisions and curbing their spread into other lakes and waterways.

Let’s all do our part to keep invasive species out of our cherished lakes and waterways.

Inspect, Remove, Drain, Never Move!

Inspect, Remove, Drain, Never Move!

About timcampbell

AIS communications specialist for UW-Extension and WDNR.
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