Summer in Kansas always finds anglers trying to hook their favorite fish in lakes and streams across the state.
All that fishing activity increases the possibility of transporting aquatic nuisance species from site to site throughout the state.
Preventing the spread of zebra mussels, white perch, Asian Carp and other nuisance species requires diligence on the part of every fisherman in the state.
"It's important that people aren't moving things about between bodies of water," said Jessica Howell, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism aquatic nuisance species program coordinator.
Anglers are reminded to take three precautionary steps to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisances.
n Clean, drain and dry boats and equipment after every visit to any lake or river.
n Don't move live fish between bodies of water or up streams.
n Don't dump bait in the water or drainage ditches. Instead, discard it on dry land or in an approved receptacle.
Among aquatic nuisances, zebra mussels are one of the hardest to detect and prevent from spreading. Zebra Mussel larvae are microscopic so it is impossible for anglers to see if they are on the boat or other craft of any kind. Since larvae, called veliger, are microscopic, they can get into places where full-grown mussels can't go.
Zebra mussels are not native to Kansas and are a very aggressive species. Once they have established themselves a body of water they can multiply very quickly. One female can produce up to one million eggs a year.
They are about the size of a thumbnail, but they can form colonies up to six inches thick.
The danger to other aquatic species is that mussels are filter feeders and they devour food other species need to survive.
"Zebra mussels are very efficient. They can filter a lot of water in just a short amount of time," Howell said.
Besides taking food from other fish, mussels can be a nuisance to humans as well. The edges of the shells are sharp and can easily cut hands and feet.
People that are not anglers or don't go to lakes can also feel the impact of zebra mussels. The city water supplies for Council Grove and Osage City had to be shut down for cleaning when zebra mussels grew so thick they clogged the pipes.
Zebra Mussels can attach to any hard surface such as pipes, rocks and boats. It takes a lot of time and money to clean them off surfaces. It is estimated that the U.S. spends $1 billion a year to control zebra mussels.
Other nuisance species such as Asian carp and white perch are aggressive species that are fast breeders. These filter feeders eat food that desirable native species need to thrive.
Once established, it is very difficult to control population growth, let alone getting rid of them completely.
Besides being a problem to native fish, silver carp are also a danger to fishermen. They can grow to 60 pounds and they jump out of the water. They have been known to jump into boats and actually hit people and cause injury. A quick trip to the Internet will reveal video of this activity. They are especially active in the Illinois River.
The white perch grow very quickly and multiply in great numbers. They are so plentiful, their size is stunted but they do compete for food with other fish and have been associated with population declines in walleye and white bass.
For more information on aquatic nuisance species, visit
kdwpt.state.ks.us/Fishing/Aquatic-Nuisance-Species or contact the local KDWPT office.