Statewide regulations to fight spread of zebra mussels take effe - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Statewide regulations to fight spread of zebra mussels take effect

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LAKE TEXOMA -- Newly expanded boating rules to fight the spread of zebra mussels in Texas are now in effect.

The rules were proposed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in May.

Texomans have already been playing by the rules, but now boaters statewide will have to do the same.

In Texas, zebra mussels first turned up in Lake Texoma in 2009.

They're now found in at least a half dozen lakes as far south as Temple.

"It became apparent to us that these things are spreading more so than just right around the counties here locally and that we needed to go ahead and make it a statewide regulation," Fisheries Biologist Todd Robinson said.

Today, the expanded regulation takes effect.

The new law requires boaters anywhere in Texas to clean, drain and dry all the water in and on the boat before going to a new body of water.

"If they don't drain that out prior to leaving the lake and they go to another lake and they dump that water out, now you've got Veliger larvae which can settle out and start their life in another lake," Robinson said.

Zebra mussels grow to be about one-and-a-half inches wide and like to hide on the bottoms of boats and trailers.

But, they can also have a million microscopic larvae per year that hitchhike in livewell water, motors, bilges and boat hulls.

"Any area like that that might hold water has got to be drained," Robinson said.

The new regulation applies to any type of vessels, whether they're powered or not. Robinson says zebra mussel populations are down from when they were first discovered, but the invasive species is here to stay.

"I think we've seen the worst of it," Robinson said. "But they will always be here they're not going to go away."

Anyone caught by a game warden transporting zebra mussels could face a $500.

Zebra mussels are currently found in the following lakes: Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport, Lavon and Belton.