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Dogs Sniff Out Invasive Zebra Mussels

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Nothing beats the heat like a relaxing day in one of the Texas Hill Country’s rivers or lakes. But tiny aquatic zebra mussels are threatening area watering holes. Texas Parks and Wildlife hopes that by using dogs to sniff out the creatures, they can minimize the potential hazard.

Zebra mussels traveled from the former Soviet Union and Poland via commercial ships and first landed in the U.S. in the Great Lakes of Michigan. Since then, they have secretly hitchhiked into other lakes and rivers across the U.S. by attaching themselves to boats and other watercraft. Officials have discovered them in Lake Texoma and as far south as Lake Waco and Lake Belton.

The problem with these tiny bivalves is their skill at reproduction. Each one can produce between 30,000 and one million offspring per year in their two- to three- year lifespan. They travel clustered together like tiny black striped worlds of doom clinging to hard surfaces. The mighty miniatures are microscopic until full-grown making it difficult to discover them. They wreak havoc by causing blockages in water pipes and starving other aquatic life by depleting the food supply. Boats and buoys have even sunk because of damage caused by the mussels.

For more information on zebra mussels, click here.

The video above shows one way that Texas Parks and Wildlife is hoping to combat the problem — using dogs specially trained to sniff the mussels out. Boat owners are asked to do their part as well. The TPWD campaign, “Clean, Drain, and Dry,” asks folks to clean their boats free from any algae, slime, or sludge attached to its bottom, drain the bilge, live wells, and other places that water can collect, and allow the boat to thoroughly dry two to three days before putting it back into the water. While the campaign is voluntary now, you can be fined up to $500 if your boat is found to be harboring these tiny pests.