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West Kootenay water bodies still free of invasive mussels

Samples collected from local lakes this year found no sign of invasive mussels.

Laurie Frankcom, the education co-ordinator with the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society, says they had no reason to believe zebra and quagga mussels had arrived in the area, but it’s still a big relief.

“We’re happy to report we got the reports back from a B.C. government-designated lab,” she says. “All tested negative for the presence of invasive mussels, which is really good news because there are lots of negative impacts these mussels can cause.”

Mussels can displace native aquatic plants and wildlife, reducing biodiversity and ecosystem health, and cover beaches in foul-smelling, razor-sharp shells.

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They attach themselves to boats and other watercraft, so Frankcom says it wouldn’t take much to start an infestation. Once introduced into a water body, they are nearly impossible to get rid of.

“Mussels are pretty much knocking on our door,” she says. “There’s not much of North America left that hasn’t been infested. We’re still protected, which is great news.”

In addition to the monitoring the society does, a provincial invasive mussel defence program has stations along the highways to help ensure boats coming into BC are inspected and decontaminated.

It was the tenth consecutive year the society has conducted lake monitoring. This year, a total of 265 samples were taken between mid-June and the end of October from Upper and Lower Arrow, Kootenay, Duncan, Slocan, Summit, and Whatshan lakes, and the Columbia, Kootenay, and Slocan rivers.

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