The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society is celebrating another year free of invasive mussels in the Okanagan.
The society has been monitoring Okanagan lakes for invasive mussels for the past ten years. This year, staff collected 148 samples from five lakes.
“We are thrilled that our lakes remain free of invasive mussels for another year,” says Lisa Scott, executive director of OASISS. “However, the arrival of zebra or quagga mussels remains a clear and present danger. We must continue to be diligent in our prevention efforts.”
The lake sampling is part of a province-wide monitoring initiative and runs in conjunction with the BC Invasive Mussel Defence Program.
To date, no invasive mussels have been detected in the province.
“Each year the valley attracts thousands of boaters from outside the province,” says Scott. “It could only take one contaminated boat to start an infestation. Invasive mussels could have lasting negative impacts to our lakes, as we have seen in other parts of Canada.”
Zebra and quagga mussels are non-native freshwater mollusks that are originally from Eastern Europe and Western Russia. They were first introduced to Canada in the late 1980s and since then, have spread into lakes and waterways around North America, mainly by contaminated watercraft. In regions where they have already established, invasive mussels damage sensitive ecosystems, clog water intake pipes and water infrastructure, ruin beaches, reduce water quality and impact tourism.
The society is encouraging anyone travelling with a watercraft to clean, drain and dry their boat before entering a new waterbody.