The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking water recreationists and property owners to check for zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species when removing boat lifts, docks and other equipment from state waters.
ANS coordinator Ben Holen said water recreationists and property owners play a vital role in ANS prevention, noting that a local cabin owner recently found zebra mussels attached to a boat lift in Lake Elsie, Richland County.
“Zebra mussels attach to hard surfaces that are left in the water for long periods of time, first settling in tight spaces and areas that are protected from sunlight,” Holen said. “Equipment such as boat lifts and docks are high risk vectors for spreading ANS, especially zebra mussels.
“It makes it easier to do a thorough search when equipment is taken out of the water in fall,” he continued. “Pay special attention to wheel wells, right angles on frames, and areas otherwise protected from sunlight. Feel for attached organisms that have small hair-like structures holding them in place. Small mussels can feel like rough sandpaper and adults can be as large as 2 inches long.”
Holen said if you think you’ve found a zebra mussel, take pictures, write down any relevant information, such as how many were found and where, and report it online at the Game and Fish website gf.nd.gov/ans, or email Holen at firstname.lastname@example.org.