NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Lake Lavon has now become the latest major body of water in North Texas where the presence of zebra mussels has been confirmed according to testing by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The invasive species arrived in Texas in 2009 at Lake Texoma, about two decades after they were first spotted in the U.S. and quickly colonized all five Great Lakes. Since then mussels or their larvae have spread to five other lakes in Texas, including Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport, Belton and now Lavon.
According to a release from Texas Parks and Wildlife, recent tests also detected zebra mussel DNA in lakes Grapevine, Fork and Tawakoni. This is the first detection of zebra mussel DNA in lakes Fork and Tawakoni. However, three consecutive surveys have detected zebra mussel DNA in Lake Grapevine making it highly suspect.
Because there are no large-scale environmentally safe methods for eradication of zebra mussels, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials are trying protect other lakes fed by the Trinity River by requiring people to clean, dry and drain their boats after they have been in colonized waters.
The mussels — whose larvae are invisible to the naked eye — can expand their range by hitching rides on boats and trailers.
The TPWD has been working to educate boaters with an ad campaign — including press releases, signage and pamphlets available at all marinas.
Officials have instituted rules requiring persons leaving or approaching public water in 17 Northeast Texas counties to drain all water from their vessels and on-board receptacles. This applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats or any other vessel used to travel on public waters. Those caught transporting or possessing the zebra mussel can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
A proposal to extend the regulation to 30 additional counties in North and Central Texas will be considered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its Thursday meeting.
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