Game Wardens Will Inspect Boats At Local Lake This Weekend

Texas game wardens will be inspecting boats on ramps at a local lake this weekend as a new rule goes into effect aimed at halting the spread of the invasive zebra mussel.

Zebra mussels (File)

BELL COUNTY (April 25, 2014) A team of Texas game wardens and biologists from the Texas Park and Wildlife Department’s Inland Fisheries will be inspecting boats on ramps at Lake Belton Saturday as a new rules go into effect that extend a requirement that anyone leaving or approaching public waters to drain their boats to Central Texas lakes.

Under a rule the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved Thursday, anglers and boaters leaving or approaching public water bodies must take all reasonable steps to drain the water from all boats, including live wells, bilges, motors, and any other receptacles or water intake systems.

The rule approved Thursday extended the requirement to public waters in 30 counties including Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Leon, Limestone, McLennan, Navarro, and Robertson Counties in Central Texas.

Similar rules were already in effect for 17 North Texas Counties.

A Texas Mussel Watch volunteer found a small mussel attached to the shell of a mollusk called a Giant Floater on Sept. 18, 2013 at Lake Belton, and a follow-up survey determined that zebra mussels were well established through the lake.

"The Lake Belton discovery underscores how critical it is for boaters all across Texas to get informed and involved to help stop the spread of zebra mussels," said Brian Van Zee, Inland Fisheries regional director based in Waco.

"Unfortunately, zebra mussel larvae, called veligers, are not visible to the naked eye. You could be transporting them on your boat and not even know it. This is why it's particularly important to always clean, drain, and dry your boat and gear before heading to another water body,” he said.

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