The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) reports zebra mussels may be present in a Douglas County lake.
Tiny, young zebra mussels were detected in water samples taken back in May at Carter Lake, which is on the border of Nebraska and Iowa.
Dave Tunink, NGPC Fisheries Division assistant administrator, says a boater likely brought the mussels to the lake.
“We have inspectors who work on our water bodies and the one who was working Carter Lake says he sees a lot of boats coming right from the Missouri River,” Tunink tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Those can bring water, wet boats, and they can have young zebra mussels on it.”
He says boaters need to be more cautious.
“My concern is, if they do become established in Carter Lake, it just becomes another jumping spot from Carter Lake to another lake.”
Young zebra mussels can die off easily, so Carter Lake will be listed as a suspect water body, until adult mussels are confirmed.
“We went and looked, and we could not find an adult,” Tunink says. “So, to me, that still makes it suspect, just because you have young. They have a high mortality rate.”
Water samples are taken from lakes in Nebraska twice a month.
Last year, Zorinsky Lake was listed as suspect too.
Adult zebra mussels have been confirmed at Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Yankton, and the Offutt Base Lake.
Experts say the best defense is prevention.
“Have a towel with you. Wipe down your boat. Wipe down your live well. Drain it out. Dry it out. Put some vinegar on it,” suggests Tunink. “The young zebra mussels are easy to kill. It’s the adults that are harder to kill.”
He says the young mussels are microscopic, so making a habit of cleaning and drying your boat is the best thing to do.