TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Cedar Bluff Reservoir in Trego County. The lake is owned and operated by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. In July, the BOR conducted its annual plankton sampling survey which revealed zebra mussel veligers (larvae). The results were reported to KDWPT aquatic nuisance species staff Wednesday.

Department fisheries staff began a search Thursday and found a population of adult zebra mussels near the Muley Boat Ramp on the south side of the reservoir. Cedar Bluff Reservoir is the western-most reservoir in Kansas confirmed to have zebra mussels. There is no known method to completely rid a lake of the invasive species.

While the reservoir is managed by the BOR, KDWPT manages the fishery. The lake consists of approximately 6,869 surface acres at conservation level and has a maximum depth of 42 feet. Cedar Bluff State Park and the lake are popular destinations and offer a variety of recreational activities such as boating, skiing, swimming, fishing, camping and hiking.

Lake enthusiasts play the primary role in stemming the spread of zebra mussels to uninfested lakes. “Zebra mussel larvae, or veligers, are microscopic and undetectable to the naked eye, so everyone who visits a Kansas lake needs to be aware that transferring water between lakes can lead to more infestations,” said Jeff Koch, KDWPT aquatic research biologist.

Prevention is the best way to avoid spreading ANS. They often travel by “hitchhiking” with unsuspecting lake-goers.

“Everyone who recreates on Kansas lakes should clean, drain and dry their boats and equipment before using another lake. In addition, don’t transfer lake water or live fish into another body of water, as this is a main way that all aquatic nuisance species move between lakes,” Koch said.

Cedar Bluff Reservoir and the Smoky Hill River downstream from the reservoir east to Kanopolis Reservoir will be added to the list of ANS-designated waters in Kansas, and notices will be posted at various locations around the reservoir. Live fish can not be transported from ANS-designated waters. The sharp-shelled zebra mussels attach to solid objects, so lake-goers should be careful when handling mussel-encrusted objects and when grabbing an underwater object when they can’t see what their hands might be grasping. Visitors should protect their feet when walking on underwater or shoreline rocks.

Zebra mussels are just one of the non-native aquatic species that threaten our waters and native wildlife. After using any body of water, people must remember to follow regulations and precautions that will prevent their spread:

• Clean, drain and dry boats and fishing and water recreation equipment between uses.

• Use wild-caught bait only in the lake or pool where it was caught.

• Do not move live fish from waters infested with zebra mussels or other aquatic nuisance species.

• Drain livewells and bilges and remove drain plugs from all vessels prior to transport from any Kansas water on a public highway.

For more information about aquatic nuisance species in Kansas, report a possible ANS, or see a list of ANS-designated waters, visit ProtectKSWaters.org.

About zebra mussels

Zebra mussels are dime-sized mollusks with striped, sharp-edged, two-part shells. They can produce huge populations in a short time and do not require a host fish to reproduce. A large female zebra mussel can produce 1 million eggs, and then fertilized eggs develop into microscopic veligers that are invisible to the naked eye. Veligers drift in the water for at least two weeks before they settle out as young mussels which quickly grow to adult size and reproduce within a few months.

After settling, zebra mussels develop byssal threads that attach their shells to submerged hard surfaces such as rocks, piers and flooded timber. They also attach to pipes, water intake structures, boat hulls, propellers, and submerged parts of outboard motors. As populations increase, they can clog intake pipes and prevent water treatment and electrical generating plants from drawing water.

In 2012, two Kansas communities, Council Grove and Osage City, experienced temporary water shortages from zebra mussel infestations before water intake structures could be cleaned up. Removing large numbers of zebra mussels to ensure adequate water flow can be labor-intensive and costly.

Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian seas of western Asia and eastern Europe and were spread around the world in the ballast water of cargo ships. They were discovered in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River in 1988 and quickly spread throughout the Great Lakes and other rivers including the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas and Hudson. They first were discovered in Kansas in 2003 at El Dorado Reservoir. Despite public education efforts to alert boaters about the dangers of zebra mussels and how to prevent spreading them, the species continues to show up in new lakes every year. Moving water in boats and bait buckets has been identified as a likely vector.