New Zealand mudsnails at Bass Lake. WG&F photo.

(Lander, Wyo.) – Wyoming Game and Fish Department would like to inform recreationists and the public that a new population of the invasive New Zealand mudsnail has been found in Lake Cameahwait (Bass Lake).

This new population was discovered by Greg Mayton, Game and Fish AIS regional supervisor. Greg says, “I was just talking to a boater and looked in the water and saw all the mudsnails on the boat ramp. With further investigation, I realized how many there were and how spread out around the ramp they were. They were everywhere!”

A single New Zealand mudsnail can clone itself and quickly colonize a new location. It out-competes native snails and insects and can occur in such high densities (300,000 per square meter) it can alter water chemistry. Fish, such as trout, rely on native snails and insects for food, and the mudsnail is a poor substitute with little nutritional value for fish.

Once the mudsnail is established in a new habitat, it is impossible to eradicate it without damaging other components of the ecosystem. Thus, preventing unintentional spread by draining, cleaning, and drying gear before moving to a new water body is the most effective means of minimizing the ecological impacts.

Mudsnails are easily transport­ed to new habitats because the snails readily attach to or are wedged into the many cracks, crevices, and crannies in waders, boot soles, nets, and buckets. New Zea­land mudsnails can live for weeks in damp, cool conditions; can easily survive on field gear for long periods of time; and can be transferred to a new environment when that gear is reused.

Keeping an eye out for signs at boat ramps is a great way for people to know if there is an invasive species present in the waterway. Outside of Lake Cameahwait, populations in Wyoming occur in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and in the Bighorn, Shoshone, and Snake rivers.  Please take time to thoroughly clean your gear if you think you’ve been in infested waters to prevent the spread of this invasive species.

For more information on the New Zealand mudsnail and Drain, Clean, and Dry procedures please visit the Game and Fish website at: http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/fishing-1000216.aspx or call Greg Mayton at 307-527-7125. Additionally, if you see mudsnails on your equipment or in Wyoming waters, please report it to 1-877-WGFD-AIS or ReportAIS@wyo.gov.

–Provided by Wyoming Game & Fish Department