A fast-growing invasive aquatic species has found its way into yet another local body of water.
Wednesday, Nebraska Game & Parks announced via press release that zebra mussels have been confirmed in Lake Yankton.
Jeff Schuckman, Nebraska Game, Fish & Parks Northeast District fisheries manager, told the Press & Dakotan that the mussels were confirmed within the last two weeks.
"We had a picture that someone had turned in with a zebra mussel attached to an Asian clam," Schuckman said. "The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks had a snorkel team down on Monday and verified that there are adult zebra mussels in Lake Yankton."
This isn’t the lake’s first time dealing with invasive species.
Following the 2011 floods, a number of invasive species — including gizzard shad, grass carp, smallmouth and largemouth buffalo, bighead carp and silver carp — made their way into the lake. In 2014, officials Parks conducted a "chemical renovation" of the lake which included partially draining the lake and introducing 700 gallons of chemicals to kill off all species present in the lake.
Another chemical renovation had been conducted on Lake Yankton in 1980.
Schuckman said for now, Nebraska Game & Parks will raise awareness that the species has appeared in another lake.
"At this point, we’re just going to alert the public of it," he said. "We have had some technicians up there doing boat inspections, handing out information, contacting water-based recreation users."
He added that the infestation wasn’t unexpected.
"It just isn’t a huge surprise," he said. "We do have zebra mussels in Lewis & Clark Lake and the Missouri River there. It was thought all along that they would end up in Lake Yankton. It just adds another water body to the list, basically."
According to Schuckman, the infestation of Lake Yankton is still low, but expected to grow.
"We’re still trying to assess it, but it’s likely in its early stages," he said. "We have some, what we call, multiple plate samplers out on boat docks. We’ve had them there last year and we’ve got them there this year, and we have not found any zebra mussels attached to those yet. We likely will in the future."
Schuckman said they will continue to educate the public on proper procedures to prevent the further spread of zebra mussels.
"When they come out of Lake Yankton, it’s the same as what they do on the river and Lewis & Clark Lake — clean, drain and dry," he said. "Don’t be moving water from Lake Yankton to another water body because it is now contaminated with zebra mussels."
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