-- Zebra mussels have invaded at least 166 inland lakes
in more than half of Michigan's counties, according to a
Great Lakes research group.
Oakland County leads the state with 43
confirmed infested lakes. Cass County follows with 13, and
Branch County comes in third with 11.
Zebra mussels encrust on hard surfaces
and can clog pipes, water intakes and boat engine cooling
systems. They can impair reproductive activity of fish species
that spawn in rocks and gravel.
The striped, freshwater organisms also
devour plankton and algae, which can cause problems for
naturally occurring fish food chains.
"They definitely alter the ecosystem,"
said Mike Klepinger, an aquatic nuisance species specialist
at Michigan Sea Grant, a cooperative research program of
Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.
Zebra mussels were first found in the
Great Lakes in 1988, when they were apparently carried in
a trans-Atlantic ship's ballast water that was emptied in
Michigan Sea Grant and the Michigan Lake
and Stream Association said cleaning all recreational equipment
before it leaves the water can help slow the spread of zebra
Other precautions include:
* Removing any visible mud, plants, fish
or animals before transporting equipment.
* Draining water from equipment before
* Cleaning and drying anything that contacts
water, including equipment, clothing and pets.
* Never releasing plants, fish or animals
into a body of water unless they came out of that same body
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