The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has designated Lake Worth in Tarrant County on the Trinity River basin as "infested" with invasive zebra mussels.
According to TPWD, infested status signifies that there is an established, reproducing population of zebra mussels in the lake. The designation is a result of recent sampling efforts, TPWD said.
"This finding that Lake Worth is fully infested is not unexpected," Raphael Brock, TPWD Inland Fisheries Dallas-Fort Worth Biologist, said. "There are two infested reservoirs upstream that can send zebra mussel larvae downstream to Lake Worth during high water events such as we've seen this spring to then settle in the lake. It is important for boaters to step up and follow TPWD guidelines and regulations to limit further spread to other reservoirs in the DFW area and other parts of the state."
TPWD said district fisheries management staff conducted shoreline surveys for zebra mussels at Lake Worth in August. They confirmed the presence of multiple size classes of zebra mussels which indicated an established, reproducing population, and they said the mussels were fairly abundant and easy to find.
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As a result, TPWD said the lake status will be upgraded from positive to fully infested.
According to TPWD, zebra mussels were first found in the lake in 2016, when only a few, similarly-sized settled mussels were discovered. Since 2017, the Tarrant Regional Water District has conducted periodic plankton sampling, during which small numbers of zebra mussel larvae were detected each year except for 2019.
The shoreline surveys conducted by the department in August provided evidence of an established reproducing population, TPWD said.
"Unfortunately, zebra mussels have now spread to 34 Texas lakes, with 28 fully infested, but there are far more lakes that still haven't been invaded and are at risk," Brian Van Zee, TPWD Inland Fisheries Regional Director, said. "Each boater taking steps to clean and drain their boat before leaving the lake and allowing compartments and gear to dry completely when they get home can make a big difference in protecting our Texas lakes."
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said it is encouraging boaters on Lake Worth to keep an eye out for settled zebra mussels and report any suspected organisms with photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have stored your boat in the water at a lake with zebra mussels, it is likely infested with zebra mussels and poses an extremely high risk for moving this invasive species to a new lake, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said.
Before moving your boat to another lake, call TPWD at 512-389-4848 for guidance on decontamination.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the transport of aquatic invasive species can result in legal trouble for boaters or transporters. Transporting prohibited invasive species in Texas is illegal and punishable with a fine of up to $500 per violation.
Boaters are also required to drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles, including bait buckets, before leaving or approaching a body of freshwater, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said.
A status map showing all lakes where zebra mussels have been found in Texas is online at tpwd.texas.gov/zebramussels. To learn more about zebra mussels and other invasive species in Texas, visit tpwd.texas.gov/StopInvasives.
TPWD and partners monitor for zebra mussels in Texas lakes, but anyone who finds them in lakes where they haven't been found before should report them by emailing photos and location information to email@example.com to help identify new introductions.