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Zebra Mussels Spread in Texas Despite Statewide Efforts

Flickr / NOAA/GLERL License

Zebra mussels are a growing issue in Texas, and now they’ve been found in the Austin metro’s Lake Travis.

Texas Parks and Wildlife confirmed zebra mussels in Lake Travis on June 22. Zebra mussels have now spread to 11 lakes and five river basins in Texas.

Boats and infrastructure at the marina were the sources of the findings. However, after further investigation, officials confirmed the presence of established colonies in parts of the lake.

This was bad news for organizations who have put forth years of effort into containing the infestation.

“This is pretty disheartening for us and our many partners, including marinas, who work to prevent this invasive species from spreading – it’s two new river basins with infestations this year,” said Monica McGarrity, TPWD Aquatic Invasive Species team lead stated in the news release. “But we are very grateful to the marina staff for reporting the sighting, our partners at Texas Invasives for relaying the report to us, and the LCRA for participating in a rapid response to investigate the report.”

Zebra mussels are not new. They are thought to have originated in Europe before being found in Lake St. Clair in the 1980s. Zebra mussels currently infest 22 states and two Canadian provinces.

Contaminated watersheds can lead to new infestations; however, the spread of zebra mussels most commonly occurs by boat. Therefore, individual efforts can go a long way in limiting the infestation. Keeping live wells clean and dry, boats free of any contaminants, and being of aware of the situation can have a big impact on invasive species efforts.

The first confirmed case of zebra mussels was in 2009. Texas officials have been fighting to contain it ever since.  Lake Travis is one of two lakes that have confirmed with newly found populations of mussels this year.

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Zebra Mussels Spread in Texas Despite Statewide Efforts