Zebra mussels invading East Texas lakes, but you can slow the sp - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Zebra mussels invading East Texas lakes, but you can slow the spread

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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -

Texas Parks and Wildlife is now warning about a new threat to East Texas waters that boaters could be carrying from lake to lake.

Zebra mussels reproduce at an astonishing rate, and they are already in Texas waters. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved a new regulation requiring that all boats operating on public fresh water anywhere in Texas be drained before leaving or approaching water.

"When you load a boat, at the dock, then you want to drain that boat right there. Because these little creatures hitch-hike," says Gregg County Ag Extension Agent Hugh Soape.

The mussels originated from Eurasia, and can have a disastrous impact, Soape says.

"The mussels attach to your boat, drainage pipes, markers out in the swimming area. They get into the pumps and water systems and clog them up and cause major problems," says Gladewater Lake Warden Mike Harrod.

"It has the potential to take over and it appears to be doing that in certain lakes," Soape says.

They can clog public water-intake pipes, block water-cooling systems, and kill off existing species.

They're not just a pesky invasive species either. They can be dangerous to boaters and swimmers as well.

"Swimmers can be hurt if the they step on these, because they are very sharp," Harrod says.

Concern is that the mussels could expand their range.

"Biggest concern is transferring them to another lake to another lake to another lake, and spreading them all over the state of Texas," Harrod says.

Zebra mussels have been moving steadily deeper into Texas since they were first found 2009, and Parks and Wildlife is serious about the new regulation.

"A ticket could be issued for it; it will be a violation of parks and wildlife," says Harrod.

The new regulation will take effect on July 1.

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