Species' invasion of lakes means a fight is at hand
Published 3:58 pm, Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Zebra mussels are here -- in Lake Lillinonah and nearby Lake Zoar -- and we do not welcome them.
The little striped mollusks are not supposed to live in Connecticut waters but, as with other invasive species, they like it here. And they're making a steady habit of sneaking in through tributaries or stowing away on pleasure boats.
Once in place, the zebra mussels hog a lake's nutrients, leaving the water barren and starving out other species.
But the ecology of Connecticut's lakes is worth fighting for, through vigilance, research -- even trial-and-error efforts at eradicating intruders.
Those who use the lakes for recreation can do their part by closely inspecting boats going from one body of water into another. Such examinations get part of the credit for Candlewood Lake remaining free -- so far -- from zebra mussels.
Of course, Candlewood remains clenched in a hard struggle with another invasive species, Eurasian watermilfoil, against which winter lake drawdowns -- to freeze the unwanted plant -- have had limited success.
Still, there is hope in the fight against milfoil, in part through research being done at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
That same kind of effort is called for to push back against the zebra mussel, which is flourishing in Massachusetts' Laurel Lake and in Salisbury's Twin Lakes.
For now, every effort at resistance counts, and every negligence has the potential to make infestation worse.
An optimal solution for both mussels and milfoil would wipe out the non-native species, while causing the least collateral damage to the things that are supposed to live in area lakes.
Until such a method is devised, checking the hulls of boats for zebra-mussel hangers on and scraping them off docks might at least stem the striped tide.