Tuesday, January 02, 2001

Pesky zebra mussels spread

Coast Guard warns boaters, anglers to take precautions

By Nancy Zuckerbrod
The Associated Press

        WASHINGTON — If you're a boater, angler or water fowl hunter, the U.S. Coast Guard wants your help.

        The guard, a division of the Transportation Department, published voluntary guidelines last week aimed at getting water sport enthusiasts to help stop the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisances.

        The zebra mussel is a nonnative clam that clings to underwater objects and clogs water-intake systems at power plants and other businesses. It also can smother native aquatic species.

        The Coast Guard issued guidelines because humans have a lot to do with how the zebra mussel gets from place to place, Coast Guard spokesman Dan Dewell said.

        “If you put your boat trailer or hunting decoys in one area where they can get latched onto by some of these critters — and then you haul them over to some other place that hasn't been invaded — then that introduces them to a new area,” Mr. Dewell said. “They're hitchhiking.”

        The Coast Guard plans to launch a campaign to make people aware of the new guidelines.

        They urge boat owners to thoroughly inspect and clean their boats.

        Anglers are asked to clean their equipment and dispose of unwanted bait on land, and water fowl hunters are advised to use bulb-shaped decoys to avoid collecting submerged and floating aquatic plants.

        “We would support these guidelines,” said Janet Herrin, vice president of river operations for the Tennessee Valley Authority. “We have found zebra mussels all along the Tennessee River.”

        Nationwide, the problem is considered to be most serious around the Great Lakes.

        Zebra mussels came to the Great Lakes from eastern Europe in the mid-1980s in the ballast water of large ships.

        They have spread quickly through waterways in Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.


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- Pesky zebra mussels spread