Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is reminding waterfowl hunters to Clean, Drain and Dry before and after each trip to help avoid spreading invasive species like giant salvinia and zebra mussels. Unknowingly, waders, boats, trailers, even decoys can often harbor these invasive species, spread them to new places and destroy aquatic habitats.
In Texas it is unlawful to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species, dead or alive, anywhere in the state. TPWD regulations also require boaters statewide to drain all water from their boat and on-board receptacles before leaving or approaching a public body of fresh water in order to prevent the transfer of invasive species. This regulation applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not: personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes or any other vessel used on public waters.
Because waterfowlers use specialized gear, boats aren’t the only things on which invasive species can hitch a ride.
“That leaky decoy could be all a zebra mussel needs to get a foothold in a non-infested lake,” said Kevin Kraai, TPWD waterfowl program leader. “It’s best to check your decoys ahead or time and avoid putting out any leaky ones.”
Unless left out during the season, decoys are not in the water long enough for zebra mussel larvae to latch on to the exterior and grow to adult size. But zebra mussel larvae (veligers) and plant fragments could be carried in the wet and humid interior. The good news: thoroughly draining and drying decoys destroys the invasive species.
Be mindful that with the cooler weather temperatures, duck hunters need to leave gear out to dry for longer periods to effectively kill invasive hitchhikers.
These three steps can prevent further spread of invasive species in Texas:
CLEAN all boats, motors, trailers and equipment. Remove plants/vegetation, seeds, mud, mussels/snails and other material before leaving any water, trail or field access. Be sure to check your boots, dogs, decoys, and vehicle.
DRAIN all water from boats, floats, bilges and motors prior to leaving any water body. Remove drain plugs and open all water draining devices.
DRY all gear and equipment completely before going to other waters or landings. Although bleach isn’t recommended for use on boat motors or other warrantied equipment, spraying felt-soled boots, decoys, or other durable gear with a 10 percent bleach solution (rinse with water after 10 minutes) can help to stop the spread of invasive species as well as diseases.
Zebra mussels have been confirmed in Lakes Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport, Lavon, Waco and Belton, and the public has played a very pivotal role in ensuring that these invasive species do not spread any further than they have.
More information about invasive species can be found online at www.texasinvasives.org