Montana authorities recently issued a statement saying that there is a high probability that the public waters are infested with quagga and zebra mussels. Officials have spent decades trying to get rid of the invasive species as it can cause expensive damage to the city’s water pipes.
Every strategy that the authorities implemented has proved unsuccessful, the quagga and zebra mussel population thriving in Montana waters. Now, officials are trying a new method, employing trained hounds to sniff out the mussel clusters.
The dogs are trained to identify quagga and zebra mussel formations before they get ahold of an area. Since dogs are unable to sniff underwater, and they cannot perform their duties dressed in a diver’s suit, the hounds’ job is to sniff any ship that enters the Montana domain, thus making sure that the visitors are not carrying any mussel stowaways.
The K-9 units were recently used only in Montana, but scientists discovered that zebra mussels managed to penetrate a local reservoir, so they decided to extend the dogs’ area of service to other lakes where they are charged with searching the shoreline.
Quagga and zebra mussels originate from Eastern Europe, both invading freshwater bodies. The National Wildlife Federation believes that the mussels were accidentally picked up by large seagoing ships when they were storing ballast water. The ships then journeyed towards the Great Lakes, introducing the mussels to the indigenous population.
Since their arrival in the 1980s, both species thrived. By the 1990s, they already took advantage of artificial waterways and rivers, spreading fast and multiplying even more quickly.
In Easter Europe, the quagga and zebra mussels are kept under control by predators. However, since they are not native to United States waters, the species are flourishing in the absence of natural predators, a single specimen being able to produce roughly five million eggs, approximately 100,000 reaching adulthood.
Scientists are also concerned that the mussels feed on plankton, considerably reducing the access of native fish species to the food.
According to the authorities, sharp mussel bunches create damage worth of billions of dollars every year.
Unfortunately, scientists have not managed to find a way to exterminate the invasive species without causing harm to the indigenous ones.
For the moment, the authorities will continue using trained hounds to detect quagga and zebra mussels on boats and shorelines.
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