Zebra mussels found in Lake Ray Roberts

zebra musselA second Texas lake has now been populated with zebra mussels.

Three years after the discovery that zebra mussels had established themselves in Lake Texoma, the destructive invasive species has been confirmed in Lake Ray Roberts north of Denton.

“Unfortunately, from an environmental and economic standpoint, this is very bad news,” says Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith. “For a host of reasons the implications of this discovery are substantial to Texas waters and their future use and management. We intend to continue working with our partners to do everything reasonably possible to try and prevent the further spread of this harmful invasive species.”

Zebra mussels can have economic and recreational impacts in Texas reservoirs. They can clog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors left in infested waters by covering boat hulls and clogging water-cooling systems, annoy boat-dock owners by completely covering anything left under water and can make water recreation hazardous because of their razor-sharp edges.

Zebra mussels are filter feeders, which mean they compete with baitfish such as shad for available forage. Any impact on baitfish in turn can affect their predators — game fish such as bass, striped bass and catfish. Zebra mussels are also very harmful to native mussel populations because they will colonize on their shells and essentially suffocate them.

The spread of zebra mussels can be slowed by making sure that boats that operate in zebra mussel-infested waters are not used in any other body of water until they have been cleaned, drained and dried.