SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With the discovery of zebra mussels found at a property on Roy Lake this week, the SD GFP’s rapid response team is taking action.

“We have also implemented a Zebra Mussel Rapid Response Team of employees to better respond to zebra mussels and to keep on top of lake situations,” said Fisheries Program Manager, Jake Davis. “We are working with the public and GFP staff to quickly notify anglers, boaters, and other recreational users of a zebra mussel presence in a waterbody and to help educate water users.”

A Roy Lake property owner found zebra mussels when removing their dock on Wednesday, September 20th. GFP officials confirmed the aquatic invasive species (AIS) and discovered additional zebra mussels in the lake.

The team is also educating on decontamination requirements to ‘clean, drain & dry’ boats in an effort to reduce and prevent the spread to other waterways. The team is also placing high-profile warning signs at water access areas that are affected.

Zebra mussels are a freshwater, thumbnail-sized invasive species that spread rapidly. They can have a devastating effect on aquatic ecosystems. They consume algae and plankton, which native species need for food.

The king of hitchhikers, zebra mussels can attach themselves to most anything. They attach themselves to native mussels which incapacitates the native species. Zebra mussels clog water intakes costing power plants millions of dollars to remove them. They can ruin a boat engine by attaching to the cooling system and blocking it.

GFP has amped up efforts to slow the spread of AIS through educating boaters and anglers. The rapid response team is sampling lakes across the state.

“GFP also conducted watercraft inspection stations throughout the summer months, even with fall upon us, boaters and anglers are reminded to always remember to clean, drain, and dry every time,” said GFP Communications Manager, Nick Harrington.

GFP reminds people that anglers and boaters are the first line of defense in the fight against aquatic invasive species. By using the ‘clean, drain & dry’ method, this will prevent the mussels from becoming ‘hitchhikers’ to other bodies of water.

South Dakota Aquatic Invasive Species Interactive Map