Zebra Mussels continue to reproduce in the Iowa Great Lakes area, with evidence surfacing as lake residents work with their docks this spring.

The first Zebra Mussels were discovered in the Okoboji area in the fall of 2012. Since then, the population continues to grow, with no known resource for eradication.

Mike Hawkins of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there’s not much new and that the population of the invasive species continues to grow in the Lakes area. Lake service providers are likely seeing more and more attached mussels and are reminded that transporting the species within the permitted travel area is allowed this spring.

“We are reissuing permits for the coming year to allow lake service providers to transport aquatic plants and hoists and docks with attached mussels to and from the lake as long as they stay within a permitted travel area around the lakes. This permitted travel area only includes the watersheds of already infested lakes.” says Hawkins. “This may cause some confusion for some. Explanation: All the mussels on hoists or dock structures left out of the water for more than 5-10 days are dead. Since the lake they are transporting them back to is already infested there is no benefit to cleaning. As you can imagine, it would not be practical to require all hoists and docks to be scraped before they are placed back in the lake. The decision to clean a hoist or dock is up to the owner and/or service provider.”

However, when leaving the permitted area, zebra mussels and other aquatic plants must be removed from boats, hoists and other equipment.

“Any lake related equipment (including docks and hoists) that have mussels attached (dead or alive) must be cleaned if they are to be transported outside the authorized area,” Hawkins adds. “An example would be an East Okoboji Lake hoist that is sold to someone living on Big Spirit Lake. The hoist must be thoroughly cleaned and allowed to dry for 10 days before being transported into the un-infested Big Spirit Lake watershed.”

Research continues for ways to decrease and/or eliminate the zebra mussel population o the Iowa Great Lakes.