Foss Reservoir in Custer County is now among the 20-plus lakes in Oklahoma where invasive zebra mussels have been confirmed, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The non-native aquatic nuisance species has continued to spread throughout Oklahoma waters since first found in the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in 1992.
Zebra mussels can be detrimental to the aquatic environment by competing with native species and altering the native ecosystem.
They also can cause significant economic damage by clustering on water intake structures, boats and boat motors. Zebra mussels are small, thumbnail-size mussels with a zebralike pattern of stripes.
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 Wildlife Department.
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.
â€śAs 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,â€ť he said.
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.