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Zebra mussels confirmed at Wilson Lake

Wildlife officials have confirmed the presence of zebra mussels at Wilson Lake.

Jason Goeckler, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Park aquatic nuisance species coordinator, said zebra mussels were found on several boats at the lake’s marina and in the surrounding shallow water this morning.

A tip from a local man who found mussels while working on a boat came Wednesday afternoon.

Zebra mussels have now been confirmed in seven Kansas lakes. Locally El Dorado was the state’s first in 2003. They were found in Cheney Lake in 2007, and in Marion Lake and Lake Afton last year.

Zebra mussels were introduced in the U.S about 20 years ago by European freighters in the Great Lakes. More than a dozen states now have the highly prolific creatures that can produce tens of thousands of young per year.

They can easily be transported from one body of water to another on the hulls of boats, in bait buckets or any place in a boat that holds water. Kansas is one of many states to have implemented educational programs urging boaters and anglers on how to prevent the spread of mussels.

“This could have been stopped,” Goeckler said. “It’s getting frustrating.”

Zebra mussels have been documented clogging intake pipes at water and utility plants, sometimes causing up to a million dollars damage per year. Goeckler said mussels coming down the Kansas River from Perry Lake are beginning to cause problems for a water-intake plant in Lawrence.

They also can out-compete native fish and mollusks for food and habitat.

Wilson’s central Kansas location puts several other lakes at risk.

“We have a new hub in the wheel now,” Goeckler said. “Now they’re close to lakes like Glen Elder, Kanopolis and Webster that are all around there.”

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