STATE OF EMERGENCY: Visit for updates and details on the COVID-19 (new coronavirus) emergency proclamation.

Zebra Mussels found in a boat motor
Zebra Mussels are dangerous to Oklahoma City waterways
Close-up of Zebra Mussels
Zebra Mussels can invade any freshwater lake or stream

Zebra Mussels have been found in Oklahoma City waters

This invasive species can damage boats, threaten fish populations and poses a multi-billion dollar threat to local water treatment facilities. The mussels can also clog water intakes, as well as damage boat docks and fishing piers.

Infestation of Zebra Mussels poses no threat to the quality of Oklahoma City's drinking water. 

To date, more than 20 lakes in Oklahoma have been infested with Zebra Mussels, including Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City. The mussels move through natural waterways, and by attaching themselves to watercraft and other aquatic equipment. They are are transported from lake to lake by unsuspecting boaters, anglers or hunters.

Other Oklahoma Lakes known to be infested with zebra mussels include the Kerr Reservoir, Kaw Lake, Grand Lake, Skiatook Lake, Oolagah Lake, Lake Eufala, Sooner Lake and Lake Texoma. 

What are Zebra Mussels?

Zebra Mussels are small mollusks named for the striped pattern on their shells. As adults, they range in size between 2 and 5 centimeters, but start as nearly invisible larvae. They are commonly found in freshwater lakes and streams in the Great Lakes and Midwestern part of the United States. Recently, this invasive species has found its way into Oklahoma, Texas and other southern waterways. One female Zebra Mussel can produce up to a million offspring a year and will reproduce within a few weeks of settling into a lake. The mussels then feed off of algae, and can adversely affect local fish populations.

Help Stop the Spread of Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels gather in large masses and attach themselves to almost any structure in the water, including boats, trailers, docks, fisherman floats and water intake structures. If you boat, fish or hunt in Oklahoma City waters, please don't give zebra mussels a ride. 

Follow these important tips to help stop the spread of this invasive species:

  • INSPECT - Inspect all boats, trailers and other equipment (including rubber boats and fisherman floats) for mud, plants and seeds before leaving the lake.
  • CLEAN - Clean boats and trailers equipment with a pressure washer at 140 degrees, OR take them through a car wash before entering another body of water. 
  • DRAIN - Drain water from boats, motors, bilges, live wells, bait containers, coolers and ballasts.
  • DRY - If a pressure washer is not available, dry watercraft and/or other equipment for at least five days before entering another water source. 

For more information about zebra mussels, visit the information page at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife or the U.S. Geological Survey

Page images courtesy of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.