- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The larva of an invasive mussel species closely related the zebra mussel has been found for the first time in South Dakota, in a reservoir in the Black Hills, state officials said Friday.

The quagga mussel, a small invasive mollusk, was identified in the Angostura Reservoir in the southern Black Hills in September by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the reservoir with the state. A second agency recently confirmed what the bureau discovered was quagga mussels.

The state Department of Game, Fish and Parks is working with the federal government to try and obtain a second positive sample of the mussels, which it’ll need before it lists the reservoir as positive for the invasive species that have become problematic in other states.

Jon Lott, the Aquatic Resources Chief for the state, said quagga mussels can spread rapidly under the right conditions, clogging up irrigation systems and outboard motors as they cluster thanks to their thin byssal threads that most other mussels don’t have.

“That’s where they really become an obvious nuisance species then,” Lott said.

Found more often in western states, Lott said quagga mussels likely made their way to the Angostura Reservoir on or in someone’s boat, which is why he said education will be the state’s strongest defense if more of the mussels are found.

Lott said other states have quagga or zebra mussels teach boaters to not transfer water from one lake to another and to completely spray down boats when leaving a lake.

“Completely stopping the spread isn’t very realistic, but our goal would be to slow it down as much as we can,” he said.

The Department of Game Fish and Parks and the Bureau of Reclamation hasn’t found any adult quagga mussels yet - the one’s found so far have been in the larval stage. Lott said they’ve searched the reservoir by snorkeling and will likely use a dive team next to look deeper.

Lott said it’s unclear right how well they could spread in the reservoir. He said the mussels can’t reproduce in water that’s below about 60 degree Fahrenheit, which should be the case in South Dakota lakes in the coming months.

“The big unknown is really how well they’ll do. With anything, you can have it introduced and there’ll be lakes where they’ll do really well and take off and they may be present in another lake and never get a foothold,” he said. “So with that we’re still in the waiting game.”

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