MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Tuttle Creek Reservoir. The reservoir encompasses areas in Riley, Pottawatomie and Marshall counties. An alert fisherman found a rock with one adult zebra mussel attached and reported it to KDWPT staff at the Tuttle Creek State Park office. A subsequent search by KDWPT fisheries staff verified the presence of additional zebra mussels. Twenty-nine Kansas lakes are now confirmed to have zebra mussels. Other reservoirs in northeast Kansas with zebra mussel infestations include Milford, Clinton, Perry, Pomona, John Redmond and Melvern lakes.
Tuttle Creek Reservoir covers approximately 11,000 acres north of Manhattan, Kan. It is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District, and KDWPT manages the fishery. The lake and surrounding areas are popular destinations for fishing, camping, swimming, hiking and a variety of boating and other water-related activities.
Corps of Engineers and KDWPT officials stress that there is no known method to rid a lake of zebra mussels, noting that the public plays a key role in stemming their spread to uninfested lakes.
“Remembering to clean, drain, and dry boats and equipment before moving between waterbodies is the key to preventing the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species,” says Chris Steffen, aquatic nuisance species coordinator for KDWPT. “The zebra mussels were likely introduced by “hitchhiking” with un-suspecting lake-goers. Adults are able to attach to boats or other equipment and the microscopic zebra mussel larvae (called veligers) may be present in any water originating from an infested lake or stream.”
The lake will be added to the list of aquatic nuisance species-designated waters in Kansas, and notices will be posted at various locations around the reservoir. The sharp-shelled zebra mussels attach to solid objects, so visitors should be careful when handling mussel-encrusted objects and when grabbing an underwater object when they can’t see what their hands may be grasping. Visitors should protect their feet when walking in or around the water or shoreline rocks, a helpful precaution any time they are outdoors.
Zebra mussels are just one of the non-native aquatic species that threaten our waters and native wildlife. After using any body of water, boaters and anglers must remember to follow regulations and precautions that will prevent their spread:
Clean, drain and dry boats and equipment between uses
Use wild-caught bait only in the lake or pool where it was caught
Do not move live fish from waters infested with zebra mussels or other aquatic nuisance species
Drain livewells and bilges and remove drain plugs from all vessels prior to transport from any Kansas water on a public highway.
For more information about aquatic nuisance species in Kansas, visit http://protectkswaters.org.
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