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Zebra mussel prevention during boating season

Zebra mussel prevention during boating season

MADISON, Wis. - After decades of dodging them, Lake Mendota now has zebra mussels. The pesky invaders were found by a group of students during a UW limnology class last fall. Now that it is boating season, researchers say the best thing people can do is keep from spreading the mussels to other lakes.

PHOTOS: Zebra mussels

"You want to clean your boat, make sure you're emptying your bilge water, you're not reusing bait, you're not dumping bait," said Michael Spear, a research assistant at the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology.

Researchers say to pay extra attention. The mussels start out so small, you can spread them without even seeing them.

"Big mussels may not be attached to your boat but the bilge water may contain microscopic larva," Spear said. 

So far, Lakes Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa are zebra mussel-free. Researchers want to keep it that way because the mussels are harmful to the lake's ecosystem, and will hurt the fish population.

"There's going to be fewer resources for things like plankton, which feed the fish," Spear said.

The mussels can also be sharp and cut feet if walked on.

If you see zebra mussels in surrounding lakes, make sure to take a sample and call the Center for Limnology or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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