A New Find in One Wyoming Waterway

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Casper- (KCWY) To Report New Zealand Mudsnails Call 1-877-WGFD-AIS or email ReportAIS@wyo.gov

The New Zealand Mudsnail, a Wyoming invasive species has been found in Lake Cameahwait otherwise known as bass lake just west of Boysen reservoir.

"Unfortunately there really is nothing we can do to combat them once we have them established,” said Matt Hahn a Wyoming Game and Fish fisheries biologist.

That isn't stopping game and fish employees from urging boaters and fisherman to take precautions when going from waterway to waterway.

"If you're doing any sort of water recreation that you drain, clean, dry all equipment to make sure you’re not spreading plants, New Zealand Mudsnails, non-native mussels, anything,” said Janet Milek the Casper Region Game and Fish public information specialist.

Even though the New Zealand Mudsnail is tiny, it could make a big impact if spread throughout the state. The snail can quickly colonize a new location with densities as high as 300 thousand snails per square meter.

"They tend to really spread out over the bottom and displace the aquatic invertebrates which are food for the trout themselves,” said Hahn.

"They are so hardy that they actually pass completely through the fish without being digested so the fish are getting no nutrients and eventually we may see impacts from that,” said Milek.

The state hasn't seen a new case of the snails in over a decade, which department staff says means most boaters and anglers are listening and are aware of the problem.

"We have very few waters that currently have it in Wyoming which is a very positive thing, but it's spreading across the western states and so we want to make sure in Wyoming we don't spread it anymore,” said Milek.

“Transferring invasive species unfortunately is very easy to do,” said Hahn.

Because the transfer is so easy and the threat is real, the legislature itself is helping combat the snail.

"The state legislature has even provided money for the aquatic invasive species program, which they are on board with making sure these don't spread,” said Milek.