Dallas, TX – As the boating season gets into full swing, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials are asking boaters for help. KERA's Shelley Kofler reports on an effort to prevent the spread of zebra mussels found in Texas for the first time last year.
Zebra mussels are thumbnail sized animals native to Russia. Scientists believe cargo ships brought them to the Great Lakes in the 1980's where they've caused millions of dollars in damage.
The fast growing mussels attach to pipes at power plants and block the flow of water. They can also deplete the aquatic food supply and cause a decline of some fish.
Zebra mussels have invaded Oklahoma waters and were documented in Texas' Lake Texoma last year.
Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Bruce Hysmith says they attach to boats and spread when boats are used on more than one lake.
Hysmith: If you boat in an infested water- i.e. Lake Texoma- we ask that you sanitize your boat.
Hysmith says you can do that a couple ways. Hose the boat down thoroughly and let it sit in the sun for a week. Or, take it to a car wash.
Hysmith: Hit it with high pressure hot water. Really clean it. Anything that could get water into it from the reservoir. Or spray it with a 10 percent solution of Clorox.
Last year biologists worried the zebra mussels at Lake Texoma had spread to Lake Lavon and would eventually infest the Trinity River all the way to the Gulf.
Just this Monday eight live zebra mussels were found in a tributary North to Lavon, but Hysmith says there's no evidence they've reached the lake.
Hysmith says biologists are considering chemicals that might kill the zebra mussels, but there's no sure way of eliminating them.
He says educating boaters to prevent a further spread is currently the best weapon we have.