Fears of zebra mussels spreading as invasive species confirmed in major Pa. lake

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Zebra mussels have been found in Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

On March 11, the agency was informed by the Army Corps of Engineers that the invasive species was suspected in the lake and biologists made the confirmation. At this time, it’s not clear how they were able to get into the popular lake.

The small, D-shaped, striped, thumbnail-sized mussels are deemed among the worst aquatic invasive species in the country. They quickly spread throughout bodies of water and filter plankton, which disrupts the established food web. They clog industrial freshwater pipes and attach themselves in droves to boat docks, beaches and boat hulls. They can damage water intake systems on boats, and clog air conditioners and heads.

They have no natural predators, completely devastating lake ecology and fish populations.

The largest lake completely within the state borders, Raystown Lake was built as a hydroelectric reservoir and was completed in 1973. It’s about 200 feet deep and was created to help control floods. Boating, swimming, scuba diving and fishing are all popular activities.

“Given the popularity of Raystown Lake for recreational fishing and boating, the probability that this invasive species will be spread to other waters is high,” said Kris Kuhn, director for the PFBC Bureau of Fisheries.

“Unfortunately, little can be done to eliminate zebra mussels once they become established in a water body,” said Sean Hartzell, PFBC Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator.

Anglers, boaters and others are asked to properly clean, drain and dry their boats and gear each time they come out of the water. They should completely drain and dry ballast, live wells, motors and other onboard water before and after boating.