RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A highly invasive aquatic species, the zebra mussel, has been confirmed at Lake Sharpe in Central South Dakota.
Lake Sharpe in Central South Dakota is the second Missouri River reservoir confirmed with Zebra Mussel, a highly invasive aquatic species.
This is the second major Missouri River reservoir in South Dakota to be infested with this species. The other is the Lewis and Clarke Lake near Yankton.
Zebra mussels populate at a fast rate and attach to anything that is stationary, causing millions of dollars in economic impact for their removal in and around pipes and other underwater infrastructure. The shells are really sharp and will wash up on beaches when they die, prompting beachgoers to always wear foot protection. Their confirmation at Lake Sharpe worries officials due to its location.
"They looked above and below the dam," said Chris Dekker, a conservation officer with South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks. "Above containment, like a dam, the water goes downhill, downstream, so there's nothing preventing them zebra mussels from getting established in Francis Case. The one hope we have as an agency right now is they're doing a big drawdown every year on Francis Case, they draw it down 15 to 20 feet so hopefully any zebra mussels that may have established throughout the year are going to die when they do the drawdown because they will be exposed and they'll dry out and freeze in the wintertime."
The human movement of water is the primary mechanism for spreading aquatic invasive species. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks conservation officers are cracking down and issuing citations on boaters who have not completely cleaned, drained and dried their boat.