Zebra mussels found in Brown & Davison counties

BROWN COUNTY, S.D. and DAVISON COUNTY, S.D. (KELOLAND) — Zebra mussels have infested another body of water in South Dakota — Sand Lake National Refuge in Brown County, which in turn affects a popular river in South Dakota.

Through a snorkel survey conducted by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), zebra mussels were discovered in Sand Lake National Refuge.

“This is used for high risk water bodies, which this one would have been considered,” GFP communications manager Nick Harrington said.

We spoke with a fisherman on the James River by Mitchell, which is about 150 miles south of the Sand Lake National Refuge near Aberdeen, and since those bodies of water are connected, they’re both considered infested with zebra mussels.

“One of the biggest things about zebra mussels is infrastructure, so this is where they can clog up pipes, they can find boats. If your boat’s in the water for a long time, they can stick to it. Basically, any hard surface, the zebra mussels are going to stick to. They’ll colonize on that,” Harrington said.

Robert Novotny was out fishing on the James River with his wife Sunday, and he says he checks their boat for any invasive species when using it.

“That entails pulling the plug, making sure everything is dry. Doing a slight rub down and visual inspection on the boat itself to make sure that we’re not infested. Now, we are fortunate because our boat only fishes the Jim River,” Novotny said.

The GFP will closely monitor the infestation through awareness, by using high-profile signs near infested waters, watercraft inspection stations and more. They emphasize the importance of clean, drain and dry.

“Any water is completely drained out, completely dried, and you’re and you’re leaving the water body with a clean boat,” Harrington said.

Harrington says the watercraft inspection stations will operate around the state through September.

The Game, Fish and Parks Department has rules regarding aquatic invasive species on its website.