Three Utah Waters Might Have Quagga or Zebra Mussels

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Each of these waters is in northeastern Utah

Zebra MusselsDivision of Wildlife Resources biologists have been hunting for quagga and zebra mussels this summer.

They’ve gathered water samples from 42 waters in Utah. Those samples have been given to a Bureau of Reclamation lab in Denver, and test results are starting to come back.

Quagga and zebra mussels are also called Driessena mussels. Here’s what the biologists have found so far:

  • Driessena mussels have not been found in samples taken from Bear Lake, Flaming Gorge and Lake Powell.
  • Pelican Lake, Red Fleet Reservoir and Midview Reservoir might have Driessena mussels in them. The three waters are in northeastern Utah.

Larry Dalton, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the DWR, watched BOR personnel examine the samples under a microscope when he was in Denver last week. He says the samples contained what appeared to be juvenile Driessena mussels.

“But we won’t know for sure until we get DNA test results back,” Dalton says.

The samples have been sent to two separate laboratories for DNA testing. It could take as long as three weeks to receive the DNA results back.

Not taking chances

Even though DWR biologists don’t have conclusive evidence that the three northeastern Utah waters have Driessena mussels, they’re not taking any chances. They’ve put a containment program in place at all three waters.

“At these waters, we’ve switched from greeting boaters as they enter the water to visiting boaters as they leave,” Dalton says. “Boaters must do one of two things after they leave any of these waters: they must allow us to decontaminate their boat for them, or they must decontaminate their boat themselves before placing it on another water.”

If you want DWR personnel to decontaminate your boat, they’ll do it for free using special decontamination units. These units spray water that’s 140 degrees Fahrenheit. “For a 16- to 18-foot boat, this process takes about 20 to 30 minutes,” Dalton says. “Once we’re done, your boat is decontaminated, and you can launch it on another water.”

If you choose to decontaminate your boat yourself, Dalton says you must do the following:

  • Clean plants, fish, mussels and mud from your boat;
  • Drain the water from all areas of your boat and equipment;
  • Dry your boat and equipment in the sun before using it again. In the fall, you must dry it 18 days in the sun.

Serious threat

Quagga mussels are a serious threat to Utah. Quagga mussels can:

  • Jeopardize essential power and water infrastructures
  • Destroy recreation areas and equipment
  • Severely damage ecosystems, displacing native and sport fish species
  • Cost millions of dollars to control

More information

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