DENVER (CBS4) - Inspectors from Colorado Parks and Wildlife who are trying to stop the influx of an invasive species in lakes across the state say they are finding exceptionally high numbers of boats with mussel infestations. A total of 51 boats have been intercepted already this year, which is the same number of boats in all of 2018 that had the problem.
Robert Walters, CPW's assistant manager for the aquatic nuisance species program, said his department is "completely over-run."
"We are having interceptions just about every day at waters throughout the state," he said in a prepared statement.
Many boats with infestations are coming from Lake Powell. The popular lake for boating is located in southern Utah.
State officials want to remind boaters that they need to "clean, drain, dry and disinfect their boats" before bringing them to a Colorado lake or reservoir. They say it's particularly important to do that if the boat was previously used in a reservoir or lake outside Colorado.
If a boat is found with mussels, it has to be completely decontaminated before it can be allowed in a Colorado reservoir or lake.
Last year's 51 boats intercepted broke the previous record for number of boats intercepted in the state, which was 26 in 2017.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife released the following information about invasive mussels:
Mussel infestations cause a variety of major problems. Because mussels consume plankton, they disrupt the food web and out-compete sport fish and native fish. Mussels clog infrastructure, including reservoir dams, outlet structures and distribution systems that carry water for irrigation, municipal and industrial uses. Mussels also infest boats and damage engines. Mussels have caused billions of dollars in damage, especially in the upper Midwest and Lower Colorado River. Nearby states where mussel infestations exist, include Utah, Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma.
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