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Invasive plant species hydrilla causing problems in Missouri lakes

MDC says avoid spreading Hydrilla
Posted at 4:30 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-01 17:30:35-04

Invasive aquatic species are a problem in lakes and rivers in the Midwest. If you have a boat, the Missouri Department of Conservation says you can help with their efforts to prevent spreading the species.

This summer, invasive aquatic plants can cause major problems for anglers, boaters and swimmers.

"It's very aggressive and it's very fast growing so it can take over. It will choke out the native vegetation, which is good, but once you get too much of it, it harms the fish populations," Missouri Department of Conservation Biologist Trish Yasger said. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation is currently battling hydrilla at Powell Gardens in Kingsville, Missouri.

"It was brought in here unfortunately. They purchased some water lilies that came from Florida that had the small tubers in it and low and behold they got it," Yasger said. 

Hydrilla is just one invasive species that can reproduce in multiple ways, completely clogging ponds and lakes. Yasger said prevention is usually easier than the cure.

"Hydrilla here in this small location, you know, we should be able to eradicate it, but if it takes off in a large body of water it’s really hard," said Yasger.

States like Florida and Texas are spending millions of dollars per year fighting it. At times, hydrilla can get so thick, boaters are unable to get through it.

Boat owner Curtis West said he's never heard of spreading invasive plants.

"Absolutely not, I did not know, and how did I learn about it? You just informed me," said West.

That’s why MDC is asking that you help fight the challenging plant.

"Clean your boat, and then drain it, and if you can, dry it," Yasger said. "By doing that, you're going to remove aquatic vegetation that can become a nuisance, hydrilla, things like milfoil, and other vegetation."

Over the course of the summer, MDC will be contacting landowners near Powell Gardens to inspect their ponds or lakes for hydrilla.

Native fish, plants, and insects are also at risk from hydrilla. MDC is working to eradicate the plant at a few other sites in Missouri.