Invasive New Zealand mud snail population expanding in Pennsylvania, PFBC urges anglers, boaters to help prevent spread

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Representational imageRyan Stone

The New Zealand mud snail is native to waterways in New Zealand. The species was accidentally introduced into the United States with imported rainbow trout in Idaho in the 1980s, and into the Great Lakes in 1991 through the discharge of contaminated cargo ship ballast water.

New Zealand mud snails quickly out-compete other species and pose a significant threat to the balance of ecosystems due to their higher reproductive potential, coupled with their ability to consume up to half of the food available to native mollusks and insects.

Recent surveys by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and partner organizations have detected these tiny snails in several popular cold-water trout fisheries in central and eastern Pennsylvania. In some waterways, the snails have reached densities of more than half a million snails per square meter. Sean Hartzell, PFBC Invasive Species Coordinator, said:

New Zealand Mud snails can be found on rocks and vegetation and are easily spread to new waters by attaching to waders, fishing gear, and boats. Because they are so small, these snails can be difficult to notice. They breed parthenogenically, meaning it just takes just one snail to start a new population. It is vital for anglers and boaters to properly disinfect their gear after every fishing or boating trip, especially when moving from one water to another.

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