State, feds assess spread of zebra mussels in Pueblo Reservoir |

State, feds assess spread of zebra mussels in Pueblo Reservoir


PUEBLO – State and federal officials are using an underwater camera to determine the extent of the infestation of zebra mussels at a reservoir west of Pueblo.Crews from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation gathered Tuesday at the Pueblo Reservoir to put the remotely operated camera in place. Divers are also expected to search for the mussels, which attach to marinas and other hard structures.”What we’re doing now is trying to survey the lake to see if we can tell how many are in the lake,” said Rob Billerbeck, head biologist for Colorado State Parks.The results from the survey, which could take a few days, will be used to develop a plan to stop the spread of the mussels, which are native to Europe but have wreaked havoc in this country by driving out native species, blocking industrial pipes and boats’ motors.The black-and-white-striped mussels were first discovered in the United States in the Great Lakes in 1988. It’s believed they were carried in a trans-Atlantic ship’s ballast water.State wildlife and parks biologists have been checking Colorado’s waters for the past several years for the invasive species and found two adult mussels and larvae in the Pueblo lake in November. Zebra mussels were found around the same time in northern California.A related mussel has been found in Nevada’s Lake Mead. The mussels eat large amounts of plankton that native species need to survive.Biologists will try to determine how the mussels wound up in Pueblo Reservoir. Billerbeck said Colorado can benefit from the experience of states that have dealt with the mussels for a while.Anglers can help stem the spread by draining the water from their boats, cleaning their boats and removing weeds from the trailer when traveling from an infected body of water to another body of water.