- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 14, 2015

KINGSLAND, Ga. (AP) - An invasive species in Kingsland is proving that moving at a snail’s pace doesn’t always mean slow.

The island apple snail (Pomacea insularum) is believed to have established a foothold in ponds in the Kingsland area around four years ago, moving through drainage canals to expand its range.

Now, the snails are such a concern that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers to participate in a roundup to remove snails from ponds at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Lake Jordan West residential community off Lakes Boulevard in Kingsland.

Emily Sloane, a DNR spokesperson, said mature snails are capable of laying 2,000 eggs every two weeks. It takes about 90 days for a snail to reach maturity.

They can grow to the size of an apple or baseball, and consume much of the vegetation in ponds and lakes. This leads to decreased biodiversity, poor water quality and algae blooms.

“They impact other wildlife by eliminating aquatic habitat,” Sloane said. “For example, with no aquatic vegetation there is very little structure under water which fish like to inhabit and in which animals can find refuge.”

It’s believed the snails were released by owners who no longer wanted them in their aquariums, she said.

The Kingsland area isn’t the only place struggling with the snails, which are native to South America.

They have no natural predators.

“The snails are concentrated mostly in southern Georgia due to the warmer temperatures,” she said. “They have been found in Albany, the Ochlockonee River, Lake Seminole, St. Marys Aquatic center, the city of Pooler and a handful of other locations.”

During the roundup in Kingsland, volunteers will use nets and rakes to remove mature snails. They will also scrape the eggs from vegetation into the water, where they are unable to hatch.

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Information from: The Brunswick News, https://www.thebrunswicknews.com

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