Zebra mussels discovered in South Dakota

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Tiny zebra mussels can cause major damage.

Tiny zebra mussels can cause major damage.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Lake Sharpe, a primary Missouri River reservoir.

Boaters who visit the lake in central South Dakota are being told that the waterway is now classified as infested for zebra mussels. They also are being cautioned about preventing the spread of the invasive species.

“The mussels were initially discovered by members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers while performing maintenance at Big Bend Dam, at the lower end of Lake Sharpe,” John Lott, fisheries chief for GFP, said in a statement on the Cap Journal website. “They were positively identified as zebra mussels by GFP staff. Additional sampling efforts by GFP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have confirmed that adult zebra mussels are present in multiple areas in the lower portion of the lake.”

Zebra mussels are not new to South Dakota. Reproducing populations were discovered in Lewis and Clark Lake and the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam in 2015. Initial surveys conducted in Lake Francis Case, immediately below Big Bend Dam, have not revealed adult zebra mussels. The lake is drawn down 20 feet each fall, and any mussels above the 20-foot mark die.

“The discovery of zebra mussels in Lake Sharpe is a game-changer for aquatic invasive species management in South Dakota,” Lott said. “Sharpe and Francis Case are two of the most-used lakes in South Dakota. Many anglers and recreational boaters who use these lakes are from other areas and use their local lakes soon after being on Sharpe or Francis Case.”

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