The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) 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 (BOR). 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 on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Department fisheries staff began a search on Aug. 25 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 this invasive species.
While the reservoir is managed by the BOR, KDWPT manages the fishery. The lake consists of about 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 may 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 may 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.