When Parks Canada confirmed the presence of live zebra mussels in Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) last summer lake communities in the Westman Region ramped up their efforts to stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) specifically zebra mussels.

For a number of years Parks Canada had taken significant steps through the Clear Lake Conservation and Restoration project to prevent aquatic invasive species (such as zebra mussels) from entering waterways in Riding Mountain National Park.  

All watercraft and/or water-related equipment entering the Park waters were required to undergo an inspection for AIS. 100% compliance was necessary to ensure the ecological integrity of park waterways as it only takes one contaminated watercraft to transport zebra mussels and other AIS into park waters.

In January 2023, Parks Canada was notified that one water sample taken in August 2022 tested positive for mussel eDNA, and more steps were taken to stop the spread into RMNP.  It was in mid-November when Parks Canada confirmed the presence of live zebra mussels at Boat Cove in Clear Lake, this being the first time that zebra mussels had been found in Riding Mountain National Park.

Councillor for the RM of Sifton, Scott Phillips says there needs to be more steps taking place across the province to educate Manitobans on the threat of zebra mussels to our water ways. 

As summer recreation prompts folks to travel from lake to lake, they could unknowingly be transferring the micro-sized larvae of zebra mussels (known as veliger) in everything from water floaties to life jackets, water skis, boats and trailers and live wells, the list goes on.  Anything that comes from a contaminated lake or river system and is wet, will contain these tiny veliger, and it only takes one to infect an entire water body as one female zebra mussel can produce up to 1 million eggs per year.

Phillips says it's important that all the municipalities work together so that all can benefit from those efforts, as it affects all of us in the Westman Region.  The municipalities are also advocating to have more decontamination stations to properly clean the hulls of boats.  But it goes beyond that!

One only needs to visit Beaconia Beach to see how devastating zebra mussels can be to a lake, a beach, and to an entire community.

Phillips says they're advocating for a mobile decontamination unit for the Westman Region.  He adds they will be posting signage around Oak Lake with hopes people will do their due diligence to clean, drain, dry and decontaminate their watercraft and equipment before entering the lake.

Please listen to Scott Phillips below as he shares more on this subject!

Province of Manitoba | Aquatic Invasive Species (gov.mb.ca)