Many outdoor enthusists will soon be heading to Lake Texoma to enjoy all it has to offer, Sun, Fun and Recreation away from the Big City.
This year boaters who trailer the watercraft to Texoma need to be cautious and watch out for zebra mussels. Zebra Mussels are native of Russia and once spread to the Great Lakes in the 80's have quickly moved south from lake to lake throughout the United States. Zebra Mussels, a hardy mollusk, are a very invasive species with few natural predators that reproduce extremely fast and can cause all type of problems not only to infrastructure on the lake but also to watercraft kept on the lake. Zebra mussels filter about a liter of plankton a day which competes with the gizzard and threadfin shad. This, of course can have a major impact on the Striper Fishing Community on Lake Texoma as shad are the main food of the striper population.
In late April a conference was held at Eisenhower State Park to address the zebra mussels problem.
David Britton with the US Fish and Wildlife service relayed that the small mussel is the poster child for aquatic nuisance species, because it not only disrupts the natural food chain, damaging ecosystems, they also clog pipes and damage equipment, impacting the economy wherever they spread. He also stated that it is almost impossible to get rid of the Zebra Mussels and this would be a problem we will have to deal with in the future.
It's estimated that the population now is several hundred million. Bruce Hysmith a biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says that "I think its a problem, a real big problem. They are actually depriving native species of a source of food. He said that "while it may be too late to eradicate the zebra mussel from Lake Texoma, it's not too late to save waterways south of the lake." As of now, Lake Texoma is the only lake in Texas with these mollusks, however the zebra mussels have been found in Fort Gibson Lake, Skiatook, Kaw, Keystone, Eufaula, Oologah and Grand Lakes in Oklahoma. Mr. Hysmith went on to say "We have got to have a plan because what we are at risk of doing now is infecting the Trinity River basin and then all the way down to Mexico,"
Boaters caught transporting zebra mussels from lake to lake could face up to a $2,000 fine and six months in jail. The best way to stop the spread of the zebras is to make sure you clean and inspect your boat before moving it from one lake to another. Boat owners can use vinegar to remove them, the boat should be then be left to dry for five hours before putting it and it's trialer back in the water. If you detect the mussels on your boat be sure to inspect your trailer thouroughly. The mussels can get in the hubs and are especially fond of getting in the carpet on your trailer's runners.
This is an issue all boaters should take very seriously and do all they can to protect the lakes not already infected with the mussels.