Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Zebra Mussels Discovered in Lake LaMoure

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Lake LaMoure after a local game warden reported the finding earlier this week.

Aquatic nuisance species coordinator Ben Holen said follow-up sampling confirmed well-established populations of zebra mussels of various ages, especially near the dam. It is unknown how the small, sharp-shelled mussels were introduced, and there is no known method to completely rid a lake once they become established.

The 430-acre lake, located in LaMoure County in southeastern North Dakota, is a popular boating and fishing destination.

Holen reminds water recreationists that everyone plays a role in stemming the spread of mussels to uninfested lakes. “This situation shows how important it is for boaters, anglers, swimmers and skiers to be aware of aquatic nuisance species and to take precautions to prevent their spread,” he said.

Prevention is the best way to avoid spreading ANS. They often travel by hitchhiking with unsuspecting lake-goers. “Always clean, drain and dry boats and other equipment before using another lake,” Holen said. “Also, don’t transfer lake water or live fish to another body of water. This can help stop the spread of not only zebra mussels, but most aquatic nuisance species that may be present.”

Since Lake LaMoure eventually flows into the James River above the city of Oakes, Game and Fish Department staff will also increase zebra mussel surveillance on the lower James. In addition, for the remainder of the summer, ANS watercraft inspections will increase at Lake LaMoure.

Lake LaMoure, and the James River in Dickey County, are now considered Class I ANS Infested waters. They join Lake Ashtabula, lower portion of the Sheyenne River, and the Red River as zebra mussel infested waters. Emergency rules will go into effect immediately to prohibit the movement of water away from the lake, including water for transferring bait. Notices will be posted at access sites.

Zebra mussels are just one of the nonnative aquatic species that threaten our waters and native wildlife. After using any body of water, water recreationists must follow North Dakota regulations:

  • Remove aquatic vegetation before leaving the water access and do not import into North Dakota.
  • Drain all water before leaving the water access.
  • Remove drain plugs and devices that hold back water and leave open and out during transport.
  • Do not import bait. For Class I ANS Infested waters, bait cannot be transported in water. In all other areas, bait must be transported in a container that holds 5 gallons or less. Remember that it is illegal to dump unused bait on shore or into the lake.

In addition to North Dakota regulations, the Department strongly recommends that all equipment be cleaned, drained and dried every time it is used.

  • Clean – remove plants, animals and excessive mud prior to leaving a water access
  • Drain – drain all water prior to leaving a water access
  • Dry – allow equipment to dry completely before using again or disinfect. This includes boat docks and boat lifts brought from other waters/states.

For more information about ANS in North Dakota, visit https://gf.nd.gov/ans.

ABOUT ZEBRA MUSSELS

Zebra mussels are dime-sized mollusks with striped, sharp-edged, two-part shells. They can produce huge populations in a short time and do not require a host fish to reproduce. A large female zebra mussel can produce 1 million eggs, and then fertilized eggs develop into microscopic veligers that are invisible to the naked eye. Veligers drift in the water for at least two weeks before settling out as young mussels, which quickly grow to adults and reproduce within a few months.

After settling, zebra mussels develop byssal threads that attach their shells to submerged hard surfaces such as rocks, piers and flooded timber. They also attach to pipes, water intake structures, boat hulls, propellers and submerged parts of outboard motors. As populations increase, they can clog intake pipes and prevent water treatment and electrical generating plants from drawing water. Removing large numbers of zebra mussels to ensure adequate water flow can be labor-intensive and costly.

Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian seas of western Asia and eastern Europe and were spread around the world in the ballast water of cargo ships. They were discovered in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River in 1988 and quickly spread throughout the Great Lakes and other rivers, including the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas and Hudson. They were first discovered in North Dakota in 2015 in the Red River. Moving water in boats has been identified as a likely vector, as has importing used boat lifts and docks.

Water Recreationists, Property Owners Asked to Help Search for ANS

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 area lakes.

ANS coordinator Jessica Howell said 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. She said this can make searching for them in the lake difficult when there are few mussels present.

“It makes it easier to do a thorough search on equipment when it’s taken out of the water in the fall,” Howell said. “Pay special attention to wheel wells, right angles on frames, and areas that are 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 two inches long.”

Howell 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 Howell at jmhowell@nd.gov.

Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian seas and were introduced to the United States in the mid-1980s. Since then, they have caused massive damage to infrastructure, increased costs to electric and water users, and altered the ecosystems into which they were introduced. They were first discovered in North Dakota in the Red River in 2015 as a result of downstream drift from infested Minnesota lakes. Most recently, zebra mussels were discovered earlier this year in Lake Ashtabula.

“Help stop the spread by reporting anything that seems out of place, and remember to clean, drain and dry equipment before moving between waters,” Howell said.

Zebra Mussels Discovered in Lake Ashtabula

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Lake Ashtabula.

Last week, an angler discovered a suspected zebra mussel and turned it into Game and Fish aquatic nuisance species coordinator Jessica Howell. Howell confirmed it as an adult zebra mussel, and subsequent inspections of Lake Ashtabula, an impoundment on the Sheyenne River in Barnes and Griggs counties in east central North Dakota, also found well-established populations of zebra mussels of various ages throughout the lake.

At 5,200 acres, Lake Ashtabula is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it offers a variety of outdoor activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, camping and skiing. Howell said it’s unknown how these small, sharp-shelled mussels were introduced into Lake Ashtabula, and there is no known method to completely rid a lake of zebra mussels.

“This situation shows how important it is for boaters, anglers, swimmers and skiers to be aware of aquatic nuisance species and to take precautions to prevent their spread,” Howell said. “Everyone who uses this lake now plays a key role in stemming the spread of these mussels to uninfested waters.”

Because of this new finding, the Game and Fish Department has classified Lake Ashtabula, and the Sheyenne River downstream all the way to the Red River, as Class I ANS infested water. Emergency rules will go into effect immediately to prohibit the movement of water away from the lake and river, including water for transferring bait. Notices will be posted at lake access sites and popular shore-fishing spots along the river.

The Red River is the state’s only other Class I ANS water. Adult zebra mussels were discovered in the Red in 2015.

Prevention is the best way to avoid spreading ANS, Howell said, as they often travel by “hitchhiking” with unsuspecting lake-goers. “Always clean, drain and dry boats and other equipment before using another lake,” Howell said. “Also, don’t transfer lake water or live fish to another body of water. This can help stop the spread of not only zebra mussels, but most aquatic nuisance species that may be present.”

Zebra mussels attach to solid objects, so lake-goers 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 wading, or walking on shoreline rocks.

Zebra mussels are just one of the nonnative aquatic species that threaten North Dakota waters and native wildlife, Howell said. North Dakota regulations designed to prevent the spread of ANS include:

  •           Remove aquatic vegetation before leaving the water access and do not import into North Dakota.
  •           Drain all water before leaving the water access.
  •           Remove drain plugs and devices that hold back water, and leave open and out during transport.
  •           Do not import bait. For Class I ANS Infested waters, bait cannot be transported in water away from the river or lake. In all other areas, bait must be transported in a container that holds 5 gallons or less. Fish cleaning stations are available around Lake Ashtabula to dispose of unused bait. Remember that it is illegal to dump unused bait on shore or into the lake. If no fish cleaning station is available, place in a dry container and dispose of the bait at home.

In addition to North Dakota regulations, the Game and Fish Department strongly recommends that all equipment is cleaned, drained and dried every time it is used.

  •           Clean – remove plants, animals, and excessive mud prior to leaving a water access
  •           Drain – drain all water prior to leaving a water access
  •           Dry – allow equipment to dry completely before using again or disinfect

For more information about aquatic nuisance species in North Dakota, options for disinfection, or to report a possible ANS, visit https://gf.nd.gov/ans.

About Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels are dime-sized mollusks with striped, sharp-edged, two-part shells. They can produce large populations in a short time and do not require a host fish to reproduce. A large female zebra mussel can produce 1 million eggs, and fertilized eggs develop into microscopic veligers that are invisible to the naked eye. Veligers drift in the water for at least two weeks before they settle out as young mussels, which quickly grow to adult size and reproduce within a few months.

After settling, zebra mussels develop byssal threads that attach their shells to submerged hard surfaces such as rocks, piers and flooded timber. They also attach to pipes, water intake structures, boat hulls, propellers and submerged parts of outboard motors. As populations increase, they can clog intake pipes and prevent water treatment and electrical generating plants from drawing water. Removing large numbers of zebra mussels to ensure adequate water flow can be labor-intensive and costly.

Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian seas of western Asia and eastern Europe, and were spread around the world in the ballast water of cargo ships. They were first discovered in the United States in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River in 1988, and quickly spread throughout the Great Lakes and other rivers including the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas and Hudson. Moving water in boats and bait buckets has been identified as a likely vector, as has importing used boat lifts and docks.

Traveling Boaters Take Note of ANS Regulations

North Dakota boaters who are traveling to or through other states or Canadian provinces, are reminded to check the aquatic nuisance species regulations of their destination, to make sure they are in compliance.

 

Mandatory boat inspections may be required along highways or at lakes based on destination or route taken. In general, to ensure compliance, boaters are encouraged to clean, drain and dry equipment.

  • Clean: remove plants, animals and excessive mud from trailers, hulls, motors and other equipment such as fishing rods.
  • Drain: drain all water, including bilges, livewells and bait buckets.
  • Dry: allow all equipment to dry completely, as an inspection might be failed in a neighboring state if any standing water is present. If necessary, use sponges or towels to remove excess water and leave compartments open to dry.

More information on bordering state and provincial ANS regulations is available at the following web addresses.

Drain Water from Boats

North Dakota anglers and water recreationists are reminded that all water must be drained from boats before leaving a water body.

 

This regulation, intended to help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species, includes all watercraft and associated bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors. However, anglers can transport fish on ice in a separate container.

 

In addition, all drain plugs that may hold back water must be removed, and water draining devices must be open, on all watercraft and recreational, commercial and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, during any out-of-water transport.

 

Other ANS regulations require:

  • All aquatic vegetation must be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers and fishing equipment such as fishing rods, bait buckets, lures and waders before leaving a body of water. That means “vegetation free” when transporting watercraft and/or equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline. Time out of the water needed to remove aquatic vegetation at the immediate water access area is allowed.
  • All legal live aquatic organisms used by anglers, including legal baitfish (fathead minnows), amphibians (salamanders and frogs), invertebrates (crayfish and leeches) and insects must be purchased and/or trapped in North Dakota. Anglers can transport live bait in water in containers of five gallons or less in volume. The only exception is that anglers may not transport live bait in water away from the Red River (Class I ANS infested waters). At Class I ANS infested waters, all water must be drained from bait buckets as anglers leave the shore, or remove their boat from the water. Anglers must properly dispose of unused bait away from the river, as dumping bait in the water or on shore is illegal.
  • Transportation of live white suckers, other than within Richland, Cass, Traill, Grand Forks, Walsh and Pembina counties, is illegal.

Aquatic Vegetation Deserves Attention

 

Extensive vegetation growth along docks and boat ramps serves as a good reminder for anglers and boaters to follow aquatic nuisance species regulations.

 

North Dakota Game and Fish Department ANS coordinator Jessica Howell said the Department has received reports of increased vegetation in local waters.

 

“Aquatic plants can be the most abundant in the warmer months due to a combination of available nutrients, light and steadily increasing water temperatures,” Howell said.

 

State regulations require all aquatic vegetation be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers and fishing equipment such as fishing rods, bait buckets, lures and waders before leaving a body of water. Howell said that means “vegetation free” when transporting watercraft and/or equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline. She said time out of the water needed to remove aquatic vegetation at the immediate water access area is allowed.

 

“Some plant species are highly invasive, and other ANS can hitch a ride in vegetation as well,” Howell said.

 

In addition to removing vegetation, other ANS regulations require:

 

  • All water must be drained from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors before leaving a water body. Anglers can transport fish on ice in a separate container.
  • All drain plugs that may hold back water must be removed, and water draining devices must be open, on all watercraft and recreational, commercial and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, during any out-of-water transport of same.
  • All legal live aquatic organisms used by anglers, including legal baitfish (fathead minnows), amphibians (salamanders and frogs), invertebrates (crayfish and leeches) and insects must be purchased and/or trapped in North Dakota. Anglers can transport live bait in water in containers of five gallons or less in volume. The only exception is that anglers may not transport live bait in water away from the Red River (Class I ANS infested waters). At Class I ANS infested waters, all water must be drained from bait buckets as anglers leave the shore, or remove their boat from the water. Anglers must properly dispose of unused bait away from the river, as dumping bait in the water or on shore is illegal.

clean under boat

It’s Important to Protect North Dakota Waters

Outdoor water recreationists are gearing up for another season on the open water. With that in mind, boaters and anglers are once again reminded to help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species in North Dakota.

zebra-mussel

State Game and Fish Department ANS coordinator Jessica Howell said as other states continue to find new ANS, such as Montana, it’s more important than ever to protect North Dakota waters from these harmful plants and animals.

“It’s vital everyone does their part by following regulations,” Howell said. “In addition, anglers and boaters traveling to other states or provinces should check their ANS regulations, as them may be different from North Dakota’s.”

Current North Dakota regulations require:

  • All aquatic vegetation must be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers and fishing equipment such as fishing poles, bait buckets, lures and waders before leaving a body of water. That means “vegetation free” when transporting watercraft and/or equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline. Time out of the water needed to remove aquatic vegetation at the immediate water access area is allowed.

  • All water must be drained from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors before leaving a water body.

  • All drain plugs that may hold back water must be removed, and water draining devices must be open, on all watercraft and recreational, commercial and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, during any out-of-water transport of same.

  • Transportation of fish in or on ice is allowed.

  • Live aquatic bait or aquatic vegetation may not be transported into North Dakota.

  • All legal live aquatic organisms used by anglers, including legal baitfish (fathead minnows), amphibians (salamanders and frogs), invertebrates (crayfish and leeches) and insects must be purchased and/or trapped in North Dakota.

  • Anglers may not transport live bait in water away from the Red River (Class I ANS infested waters). All water must be drained from bait buckets as anglers leave the shore, or remove their boat from the water. Anglers must properly dispose of unused bait away from the river, as dumping bait in the water or on shore is illegal.

In all other waters not infested with Class I ANS species, anglers can transport live bait in water in containers of five gallons or less in volume.

Threat of Exotics in State Waters Continues

 

Outdoor water recreationists are once again reminded to help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species in North Dakota.

clean under boat zebra-mussel

Current regulations require:

·         All aquatic vegetation must be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers and fishing equipment such as fishing poles, bait buckets, lures and waders before leaving a body of water. That means “vegetation free” when transporting watercraft and/or equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline. Time out of the water needed to remove aquatic vegetation at the immediate water access area is allowed.

·         All water must be drained from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors before leaving a water body.

·         All drain plugs that may hold back water must be removed, and water draining devices must be open, on all watercraft and recreational, commercial and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, during any out-of-water transport of same.

·         Transportation of fish in or on ice is allowed.

·         Live aquatic bait or aquatic vegetation may not be transported into North Dakota.

·         All legal live aquatic organisms used by anglers, including legal baitfish (fathead minnows), amphibians (salamanders and frogs), invertebrates (crayfish and leeches) and insects must be purchased and/or trapped in North Dakota.

·         Anglers may not transport live bait in water away from the Red River (Class I ANS infested waters). All water must be drained from bait buckets as anglers leave the shore, or remove their boat from the water. Anglers must properly dispose of unused bait away from the river, as dumping bait in the water or on shore is illegal.

·         In all other waters not infested with Class I ANS species, anglers can transport live bait in water in containers of five gallons or less in volume.

Have You Seen? ANS and Zebra mussels

This weeks North Dakota Outdoors webcast is now available. The topics this week is aquatic nuisance species

Find out more about zebra mussels in the Red River and the new ANS rules in place in North Dakota in this week’s webcast with ANS coordinator Jessica Howell. Watch the video right here or click this link:  http://gf.nd.gov/publications/television/outdoors-online-webcast

More information on aquatic nuisance species is right here or at this link: http://gf.nd.gov/ans

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Weekly Webcast on ANS and zebra mussels