Zebra mussels found in Milford Lake

This morning wildlife officials announced zebra mussels have been found in Milford Lake.

Jason Goeckler, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks aquatic nuisance species coordinator, confirmed the invasive species was found in the 16,200 acre lake near Junction City.

They were first discovered Monday when a boater found several attached to his boat as he pulled it from the water for the season. A follow-up check by Goeckler and other biologists found three more in the lake.

Milford is the eighth Kansas lake to become contaminated. El Dorado Lake was Kansas’s first in 2003. Locally they were also found in Cheney Lake in 2007 and Lake Afton last year.

The tiny mollusks came to the U.S. in the 1980s within the bilge water of European barges. They’ve since been spread by normal water flow and water within boats and bait buckets. Zebra mussels can also attach to the hulls of boats and live for several days.

Wildlife and Parks has had an active program to educate boaters and fishermen on preventing the spread of zebra mussels for several years.

Clogging in-take pipes at water and utility plants is a potential problem that can take hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix. Zebra mussels can also out-compete native fish and mollusks for food and habitat.

Goeckler said zebra mussels have been documented in the Kansas River, probably washing downstream from an infestation at Perry Lake. He said the Lawrence water plant has found them within their system.