In Texas, Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Texoma are already infested -- and without your help, Zebra Mussels will spread throughout the state.
What are Zebra Mussels?
Zebra Mussels are a small, destructive invasive species that can spread by hitching a ride on boats, trailers and gear. They grow to about 1 ½ inches and develop a distinctive zebra-striped shell. One Zebra Mussel can produce up to one million microscopic larvae. They can cause tremendous environmental and economic damage -- harming boats and aquatic life, and even threatening your water supply.
It's illegal to transport Zebra Mussels.
It is illegal to possess or transport Zebra Mussels- knowingly or unknowingly in the state of Texas. The law imposes fines of up to $500 for the first incident (a Class C misdemeanor), and steeper fines with possible jail time, for subsequent offenses.
Unfortunately, you may be "in possession" of Zebra Mussels, and not even know it. That is because young Zebra Mussels in their larval stage can survive for days in water left in a boat or other gear and are invisible to the naked eye.
How to avoid breaking the law
You can take a few simple precautions to help ensure you are in compliance with the law.
CLEAN. Clean off any vegetation, mud or foreign objects on the boat, trailer and gear before you leave the lake
DRAIN. The law requires that boaters drain all water from the boat, including the motor, bilge, livewells and bait buckets -- before leaving an infested lake.
DRY. Dry the boat, trailer and/or gear for a week or more before entering another water body. If unable to let it dry for at least a week, wash it with a high-pressure washer and hot (at least 140-degree), soapy water.
Visit TexasInvasives.org/ZebraMussels to find more on:
How to identify adult Zebra Mussels; the damage they cause to boats and how to clean and/decontaminate your boat; reporting a Zebra Mussel sighting; and how to request additional information.
Photo: "Hundreds of zebra mussels can catch a ride on any part of your boat left in the water."
Photo courtesy TPWD