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September 27, 2013

Zebra mussels found in Texas lake

LUBBOCK, Texas — Invasive zebra mussels have turned up at a Central Texas lake as efforts continue to stop the spread of the unwanted creatures, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Thursday.

The mussels were discovered Sept. 18 in Belton Lake, 60 miles north of Austin. It’s the first time zebra mussels were documented in the Brazos River basin, nearly 200 miles south of where they previously were found in Texas.

It’s “not a surprise but certainly not unexpected,” said Ken Kurzawski, the department’s freshwater fisheries regulation coordinator. They’re “in an area we thought that if they got there they probably could survive.”

An order adopting an emergency rule to add lakes Belton and Stillhouse Hollow, and portions of the Leon and Lampasas rivers was signed Wednesday. Zebra mussels are suspected of reaching Lake Worth and Joe Pool Lake in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where zebra mussel DNA has been detected but none of the shellfish have been confirmed as present, the department said.

Boaters are required to clean, dry and drain watercrafts after they’ve been in waters where the mussels or their larvae have been found. The mussels — whose larvae are invisible to the naked eye — can expand their range by hitching rides.

The invasive species clogs public-water intake pipes, attaches itself to boat hulls, jams water-cooling systems and can be a hazard to boaters and swimmers because of its sharp edges, according to the department.

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