S.D. commission designates more lakes as containment waters because of zebra mussels

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s problem with zebra mussels is getting larger.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission in emergency action Wednesday added five lakes in Day County to the list of containment waters for control of aquatic invasive species.

They are Pickerel, Waubay, North Rush, South Rush and Minnewasta.

Zebra mussels were found July 10 in Pickerel Lake.

The containment designation previously had been applied to much of the Missouri River, with the exception of Lake Oahe, and several associated waters.

The emergency rule for the Day County lakes will last 90 days. That gives the commission time to formally propose a permanent rule through the normal process.

Chairman Gary Jensen said there would be discussion at the September 2-3 meeting in Rapid City.

“Really it’s a whole ‘nother kind of infestation in South Dakota,” Jensen said. He added, “We need to have adequate funds to address the issue.”

The Legislature passed a new law giving broader authority for GFP crews to stop vehicles pulling boats on South Dakota roadways.

There are 10 teams checking boats this summer.

They have inspected more than 6,000 watercraft and 145 citations have been issued so far, according to Kevin Robling. He is GFP’s deputy secretary.

Rosie Smith, executive director for Glacial Lakes and Prairie Tourism Association based at Watertown, spoke in favor of listing the five lakes and offered to help educate, promote and share information with visiting boaters.

“Obviously we’re disappointed it turned up in the Glacial Lakes region,” Smith said.  

Dan Loveland from the Pickerel Lake Conservancy group supported the designations too. The conservancy’s mission is protecting the lake and the water quality, he said.  

On July 24, 2019, a similar designation was made for Lake Sharpe and Lake Francis Case, noted Tom Kirschenmann, state Wildlife Division director. 

Commissioner Jon Locken of Bath said Lake LaMoure in North Dakota has zebra mussels.

State fisheries director John Lott said Lake LaMoure is in the James River drainage and he expects zebra mussels eventually will move down the James River into South Dakota. Lott said the Glacial Lakes such as those in Day County aren’t in the drainage.

Lott said inspections are intended to help boaters understand the need for best practices. He hasn’t been told of any adult mussels found in an inspected boat this year.

After the meeting Lott told KELOLAND News, “We have sampled for larval zebra mussels — veligers — in some waters in the northeast in previous years and did not detect any larval mussels. Immediately after adults were discovered in Pickerel Lake, a cursory search was made at boat ramps and other easily accessible areas on other popular northeast lakes and no adult mussels were discovered.”

He added, “When GFP staff pull boat docks and fishing piers in the fall, they will be inspecting those structures for zebra mussels and we will work with lake associations to have lakeshore residents inspect their boat lifts and docks when they are pulled from the water also.”

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