Zebra mussels found in Highline Lake

(Jason Burger)
Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 11:19 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - This week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Highline Lake State Park.

The zebra mussel is a fingernail-sized shellfish with a triangular, dark zig-zag pattern known as a freshwater pest.

“They are habitat generalists,” said Rebecca Hofmeister, a watershed scientist. “They like to live in a variety of conditions, from low to high oxygen levels and temperature levels, and they can survive extended periods of starvation. They can source their food from a variety of sources as well. So they are just really resilient creatures.”

In a press release, CPW stated it found a single adult mussel on a piece of PVC pipe during a routine check, a first for the state of Colorado.

Hofmeister said zebra mussels may be small but are destructive. They can clog water pipes, destroy boats, etc.

“They can attach themselves to native mussel populations, inhibiting their ability to move... ultimately killing off those native species,” explained Hofmeister. “They can affect spawning habitats for fish.”

Zebra mussels spread easily through anything that moves from one body of water to another. “So even a duck flying from pond to pond can transport these guys to another location,” added Hofmeister.

The mussels have a high reproductive rate of up to one million mussels per year.

“Do your best not to be moving your boat from one place to another without rinsing it off or not taking water from another body and then pouring it into another body,” said Hofmeister.

Highline Lake is not considered infested. CPW has increased monitoring to prevent the spread.

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