Via the St. Croix River Association:
With open water season winding down, recreational water equipment is being removed from the water for the year. It is crucial everyone continues to take the proper steps to make sure all equipment is cleaned properly to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Zebra mussels, in particular, are invasive organisms that have established in Deer Lake located in Polk County, WI. Population levels have remained low since they were discovered in Deer Lake in 2016, but landowners have reported finding them on their docks in greater numbers this year. Zebra mussels cut feet, clog and overheat boat motors, eat microscopic organisms needed for fish and other species, and suffocate native clams, mussels, and aquatic insects.
Depending on conditions, they may survive out of water from several days to several weeks. To date, no other lakes in Polk County have found zebra mussels.
The following steps should be made when taking equipment out of the water for winter storage:
- Inspect and remove all plants, mud, or other debris found on equipment that has been sitting in water: dock posts, wheels, boats, rafts, pontoons, kayaks, and jet skis.
- Drain all water if possible.
- Spray all equipment (including live wells) with a pressure washer sprayer. This will help get unwanted invasive species that are hanging on tight or that you can’t see.
- Spray down your equipment with a bleach/water solution, including the inside of live wells. Use one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water and let it air dry to help kill unseen hitchhikers.
- Talk to your own service provider and neighbors about taking these steps.
If you find something suspicious, take a picture, bag it, and contact Katelin Anderson, AIS Coordinator with Polk County at firstname.lastname@example.org or Katie Sickmann, Invasive Species Coordinator with the St. Croix River Association at email@example.com.