Last month, the Black-Sea-Native Zebra Mussels were spotted in Lake Travis, indicating that Lake Travis is home to a new, invasive species.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, an invasive species is defined as a species that is both non-native to an ecosystem and presents possible harm to the environment or human health. Through rapid colonization of their new homes, zebra mussels quickly push out rival species, damaging or threatening native life. Since they can quickly adapt and reproduce in non-native water, they rapidly expand into various places such as pipes, boats, and on-the-water machinery, causing damage or malfunction.

Zebra Mussels are not the only species to be wary of, and there are many worse cases around the world of a species taking a new habitat and then running amok. Australia, in particular, is well-known for accidentally providing a home to invasive species. While the blunders can seem comical at times, invasive species cause many problems for native people and wildlife.

Invasive species are usually spread by humans themselves, and everyone should be aware of activities that could harmfully spread species across the Earth.  Below are a few tips which you can employ to prevent the spread of invasive species.

  1. If you’re going on an exotic vacation, don’t sneak fruits, nuts, seeds, lumber or other plant life out of the country.  While it may seem tempting if you see a beautiful species of plant or an interesting looking fruit, vegetation may harbor bugs, fungus or other plants that would love to hitch a ride.

  2. When it comes to stopping mussels from invading our lakes and harming other wildlife, the best way to prevent their migration is to ensure you check your vehicles for places they might hide. If you’re an active boater, keep your vessel well tuned and cleaned, especially when you move your boat from one body of water to another. Remember, Clean, Drain, Dry!

  3. Don’t. Release. Pets. While it may seem like a good alternative if you can no longer take care of your pet, it’s a bad idea. In Teller Lake, Colorado, it is believed that someone dumped just a few goldfish into the lake. Today, the lake is “infested” with more than 4,000 goldfish who have no natural predators. While the owner may have thought that releasing the fish was a better alternative than maintaining them, the goldies quickly muscled out the other fish and monopolized the area.

If you want to get involved, sign this petition to remove and quarantine areas currently affected by zebra mussels here in Lake Travis.