Aquatic Invaders Reach Lincoln County Waters

Aquatic Invaders Reach Lincoln County Waters

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is asking visitors and anglers who wade the Beaver Dam Wash to clean, drain and thoroughly dry their shoes, waders, tackle and other related equipment for at least 48 hours before using it to wade or fish in any other body of water.

These steps, says Brandon Senger, regional fisheries supervisor for NDOW, will help to stem the inadvertent movement of New Zealand mud snails from Beaver Dam Wash to other waterways. But the most effective option is for recreationists to have and use two complete sets of waders, related gear and other clothing used for wading. One set for use in waters that are positive for aquatic invasive species like the mud snail or quaaga mussel and another set for waters that are deemed negative.

At first glance, New Zealand mud snails are not a very intimidating creature. With an average length of just four to six millimeters, these diminutive creatures seem fairly harmless; but get enough of them in one spot and they have the potential to alter a waterway's ecosystem and significantly impact its fish and wildlife resources.

"Once introduced into a new area, New Zealand mud snails can reach densities exceeding 500,000 per square meter. The exact implications of these incredibly high population densities are not certain. However, it is thought that such high snail populations probably have a negative effect on populations of other aquatic organisms, especially native snails and the insects and fish that feed on them," according to the Center for Invasive Species Research.

The snails already have reached significant numbers in Beaver Dam Wash, said Mark Beckstrand, NDOW fisheries biologist. "You can't help but notice them now. When you look in the water at some locations it looks like pepper in the water, all over the bottom and on every rock," he added.

There is no way to eradicate the mud snails unless you completely dry up the stream and keep it dry for an extended time period. At this point, it is about getting people to simply clean and dry their equipment so they don't move snails or any other invasive species between waters, Beckstrand said.

Fisheries biologists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources were the first to learn that mud snails had made their way to Beaver Dam Wash, most likely as an aquatic hitchhiker attached to someone's gear or clothing. Biologists found the snails while completing monitoring surveys for the Virgin River spinedace in October 12 and sent samples out for positive identification.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW's wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen's license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at www.ndow.org.