Zebra Mussels found in South Dakota’s ‘most popular fishery’
State confirms infestation in Lake Oahe
PIERRE — One of South Dakota’s largest bodies of water is the latest in the state where the spread of zebra mussels has been confirmed.
Work crews with the state’s Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Department recently discovered zebra mussels in Lake Oahe near Cow Creek, just north of Pierre, according to an agency news release issued Thursday.
"While pulling docks, fisheries staff reported finding zebra mussels on several structures," said Jake Davis, Fisheries Program Administrator for GFP. "Both detections were then confirmed following these findings."
As a result of the detection, the lake has officially been designated as infested. In response, GFP’s Zebra Mussel Rapid Response Team is responding by placing high-profile signs at access areas, engaging boaters who are using the infested water, and reiterating information on decontamination requirements.
"Lake Oahe is an expansive body of water, and we want to be sure all individuals are aware of this confirmation," Davis said. “This is why education and outreach continue to be our most useful tools for educating all individuals on zebra mussels."
The significance of effective communication as a preventative measure was reiterated by GFP spokesman Nick Harrington.
"Lake Oahe is a good example of why our communication approach is critical," he said. "This is our most popular fishery in the state, with many access locations, and why it is important for all users to be aware of this confirmation."
GFP has intensified efforts to curb the spread of aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels in recent years. Those efforts include educating anglers and boaters about the importance of cleaning, draining and drying every time they pull their boats from the water, as well as physically inspecting boats before and after loading.
"The winter season is upon us, but there are still opportunities to put the boats in the water. Regardless of the time of year, individuals need to always remember to practice clean, drain, dry," Harrington said.
At least a dozen other South Dakota bodies of water have zebra mussel infestations right now, according to GFP’s tracking website.