Citizens, lake contractors encouraged to report invasive species on docks, piers and other structures
MADISON, Wis. – Following the recent identification of zebra mussels along the southeastern shoreline of Lake Mendota, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking citizens and lake contractors to report findings of any aquatic invasive species in lakes where the organisms have not been previously reported.
As lakefront property owners and boat owners around the state remove equipment from the water in preparation for the winter, they can play an important role in preventing the spread of the aquatic invasive species by checking equipment and reporting any findings.
“Zebra mussels are known to be in less than 5 percent of the lakes in Wisconsin that have been identified as suitable for them,” said Bob Wakeman, DNR aquatic invasive species coordinator. “While the DNR and partners monitor hundreds of lakes and rivers each year for invasive species, we are more likely to find new populations when more people are looking.”
The identification of zebra mussels in Lake Mendota came as a result of work by students of Jake Vander Zanden, a professor at UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology and an expert on aquatic invasive species. Zebra mussels feed on the suspended algae needed by other organisms and this disruption to the food web may limit survival and growth in fish. They cling to hard submerged surfaces such as docks, pier legs, boats and anchors and clog water intake systems.
Citizens who find zebra mussels or other invasive species in new locations are being asked to:
- Check the DNR website to see if invasive species has not been previously found on the waterbody.
- Note the exact location where the organism was found.
- Take a digital photo in the setting where it was found (if possible). Then collect up to five specimens of varying sizes. Place in a jar with water; put on ice and transport to refrigerator.
- Contact your local lake biologist and deliver specimens.
Responding quickly to new aquatic invasive species detections is critical to help guide management decisions and to curb the spread into other water bodies. There are also specific laws lake property owners and contractors must follow to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Prior to moving equipment from a body of water, Wisconsin law requires that you:
- INSPECT boats, trailers, boat lifts, piers, rafts and equipment.
- REMOVE all attached aquatic plants and animals.
- DRAIN all water from boats, vehicles, and equipment.
Best practices for protecting boats, motors and other equipment from zebra mussels include tilting motors up after use; using boat lifts to pull boats out of the water; and applying antifouling paints. More tips for protecting equipment can be found on the DNR website.