Invasive Zebra Mussels Detected in Raystown Lake

Zebra Mussel RaystownImage: Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) cautions boaters, anglers, and other users to be aware of the presence of invasive Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) that were recently detected in Raystown Lake, Huntingdon County.

On March 11, the PFBC was informed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that suspected Zebra Mussels were observed in the lake and PFBC biologists positively identified the species. At this time, it is unknown how the invasive species was introduced to the lake.

“Adult Zebra Mussels can attach to surfaces and can be spread easily between waters if they become attached to boats or fishing gear,” said Sean Hartzell, PFBC Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator. “The microscopic larvae of the Zebra Mussel can also be spread through undrained water transported on boats or gear. Unfortunately, little can be done to eliminate Zebra Mussels once they become established in a water body.”

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Zebra Mussels are small, “D-shaped,” striped, thumbnail-sized bivalves which have been deemed among the worst aquatic invasive species in the United States.  Zebra Mussels quickly spread through aquatic ecosystems and filter plankton, which disrupts aquatic food webs.  Zebra Mussels also are known to harm infrastructure by clogging industrial freshwater intake pipes and fouling boat docks, beaches, and the hulls of boats.

“This discovery of Zebra Mussels gives us a great amount of concern for the aquatic resources within Raystown Lake and the potential for spread to other waters,” said Kris Kuhn, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Fisheries.  “Given the size and popularity of Raystown Lake for recreational fishing and boating, the probability that this invasive species will be spread to other waters is high.  We need every angler, boater, and conservation-minded visitor to the lake to help us stop the spread.”

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To prevent the spread of Zebra Mussels and other aquatic invasive species in Pennsylvania waters, the PFBC suggests that anglers, boaters, and others who enjoy the water properly clean, drain, and dry their boats and gear after each adventure.

Boaters should completely drain and dry ballast, live wells, motors, and other onboard water before and after boating.  Boats which have been moored at a lake should be visually inspected for Zebra Mussels and any specimens should be removed.  Washing boats with hot or high-pressure water, such as at a commercial carwash, is strongly encouraged.  The PFBC also recommends that boats be allowed to dry for several days before being used in another water body.

Fishing gear or other materials should be drained on-site and allowed to dry for at least 48 hours before use at another water body.  Anglers are encouraged to leave live bait behind and either give it to someone using the same waterbody or discard it in the trash.  For further instructions on cleaning boats or gear, please visit the “Clean Your Gear” section of the PFBC website.

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Zebra Mussels and other suspected aquatic invasive species may be reported using the PFBC’s online reporting portal:  https://pfbc.pa.gov/forms/reportAIS.htm.

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