Mud snails detected in branch of Au Sable River

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

The New Zealand mud snail, a troublesome invasive species, has appeared in Michigan’s inland waters for the first time in a particularly sensitive area.

A researcher from Grand Valley State detected the presence of the tiny snails in the east branch of the Au Sable River — a river known to offer some of the best trout fishing in the United States. In areas where the mud snails are able to take hold, they can cause drastic reductions in the insect population and impact the food chain of an ecosystem.

New Zealand mud snails turned up in Michigan last year near Baldwin in the Pere Marquette River.

“They are easily transported and resilient, and can survive in damp environments for up to 26 days,” stated Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials in a press release. “Where established, these snails can dominate the bottoms of rivers and streams and exhibit invasive qualities, out-competing and displacing microinvertebrates that are vital as food sources for many fish species.

“In addition, these invasive snails have no nutritional value for fish.”

State officials are moving quickly to educate the public on steps to take to help stop the spread of New Zealand mud snails in Michigan. Those steps include:

■ Drain live wells, bilges and all water from boats after activity.

■ Clean, drain and dry all equipment — including wading boots — before leaving a body of water.

■ Clean boats and equipment with hot water and diluted bleach and allow them to dry for at least five days.

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