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CUSTER COUNTY, Okla. – Foss Reservoir is now among the 20-plus lakes in Oklahoma where invasive zebra mussels have been confirmed.

Zebra mussels are considered invasive by competing with native species and altering the native ecosystem.

“The primary way zebra mussels spread to new areas is by hitching a ride on a trailered boat,” said Curtis Tackett, aquatic nuisance species biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“Once these invasive mussels are present in a body of water, there is no feasible way to eliminate them. The best strategy is to prevent them from spreading,” Tackett said.

Boaters using these infested lakes are encouraged to use the “clean, drain, and dry'” procedure before traveling to uninfected waters.

“As a general practice, washing and scrubbing your boat and its equipment, and allowing it to completely dry between uses, will prevent the spread of zebra mussels and many other invasive species.”

Because microscopic zebra mussel larvae can be unknowingly transported anywhere water is trapped, these precautions should be taken to help slow their spread:

  • Drain bilge water, live wells and bait buckets before leaving.
  • Inspect boats, trailers and equipment immediately upon leaving the water.
  • Scrape off any zebra mussels, aquatic vegetation or mud found. Do not return them to the water.
  • If possible, dry the boat and trailer for at least a week before entering another waterway.
  • Wash boat parts and accessories that contact the water using hot water (at least 140 degrees F.), or spray with high-pressure water.

Oklahoma waters where zebra mussels have been confirmed include Kaw, Sooner, Hefner, Keystone, Robert S. Kerr, Grand, Skiatook, Eufaula, Oologah, Claremore, Greenleaf and Texoma lakes, as well as in the lower Canadian, Cimarron, Arkansas, Verdigris, Washita and North Canadian rivers.