HARRISBURG, Pa. (April 20) – With the trout fishing season underway and other spring fishing and boating activities picking up, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) reminds anglers and boaters to be aware of aquatic invasive species and prevent their spread.
An aquatic invasive species of concern is the New Zealand Mudsnail.
Recent surveys by the PFBC and partner organizations have detected these tiny snails, roughly the size of a match head, in several popular cold-water trout fisheries in central and eastern Pennsylvania. In some infested waters, New Zealand Mudsnails have the potential to reach densities of hundreds or even thousands of snails per square foot. These snails are not harmful to humans but can compete with and negatively impact native freshwater invertebrate species, such as other snails and aquatic insects.
"New Zealand Mudsnails can be found on rocks and vegetation and are easily spread to new waters by attaching to waders, fishing gear, and boats," said Sean Hartzell, PFBC Invasive Species Coordinator. "Because they are so small, these snails can be difficult to notice. They breed parthenogenically, meaning it just takes just one snail to start a new population. It is vital for anglers and boaters to properly disinfect their gear after every fishing or boating trip, especially when moving from one water to another."
Until recently, New Zealand Mudsnails were known to occur only in Lake Erie, Erie County; Spring Creek and Bald Eagle Creek, Centre County; and the Little Lehigh Creek in Lehigh and Berks counties. Surveys during 2020 revealed populations of snails in Trindle Spring Run, Cumberland County; Codorus Creek, York County; and Valley Creek, Chester County; prompting expanded surveys.
During 2021 surveys, 16 streams and rivers were found to host populations of New Zealand Mudsnails, including Fishing Creek, Clinton County; Jordan Creek, Lehigh County; Trout Creek, Lehigh County; Bushkill Creek, Northampton County; Saucon Creek, Northampton County; Monocacy Creek, Northampton County; Perkiomen Creek, Montgomery County; Tulpehocken Creek, Berks County; Wyomissing Creek, Berks County; Wissahickon Creek, Philadelphia County; Big Spring Creek, Cumberland County; Letort Spring Run, Cumberland County; Pohopoco Creek, Carbon County; East Branch Brandywine Creek, Chester County; the Schuylkill River, Berks/Montgomery/Philadelphia counties; and the Lehigh River, Lehigh/Northampton counties.
To raise awareness and educate anglers, boaters, and others about New Zealand Mudsnails and how to properly disinfect gear, signs have been posted along infested waters.
"Disinfecting gear to remove and kill this species can be difficult, but the effort is worth it to protect other waters from infestation," added Hartzell. "New Zealand Mudsnails can resist drying for long periods of time and most typical cleaning agents have little effect."
Techniques known to effectively disinfect gear from New Zealand Mudsnails include freezing gear for at least six hours, soaking gear in hot water greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least five minutes, or soaking gear for five minutes in a one-to-one solution of water and Formula 409® Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant. Other Formula 409 products and other cleaning agents are not known to disinfect for New Zealand Mudsnails. Boats, especially kayaks and canoes, should be inspected upon exiting the water, and all vegetation should be removed before leaving the area.
More information on aquatic invasive species and disinfection can be found on the "Clean Your Gear" section of the PFBC website (www.fishandboat.com).
Members of the public who observe suspected New Zealand Mudsnails or other aquatic invasive species may report their sightings to the Commission online through the following link: https://pfbc.pa.gov/forms/reportAIS.htm.
Video B-roll to accompany this news release is available here: https://youtu.be/dLGR9thvfME
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission