The discovery of an invasive species in a Vermont lake has renewed pleas to boaters from state environmental conservation officials to take steps to ensure the pest is not spread to other waterways.
The Asian clam was recently discovered in Lake Bomoseen, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources announced this week. While the species was just confirmed, the state agency said the clam had likely been in a portion of Lake Bomoseen for at least a year before it was positively identified.
"Asian clams can spread very rapidly," warned Josh Mulhollem of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, who was in the Castleton River Wednesday making sure the clam had not made it farther downstream.
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Mulhollem did not detect the clam in the river, and said it is a priority of his to see the Asian clam contained to the 14 acres of Lake Bomoseen where it is now known to be.
"They do pose a serious threat in certain places in Vermont where the environmental conditions are correct," Mulhollem said, noting the invader prefers a sandy environment.
The dime or nickel-sized invaders consume resources needed by native species like fish, Mulhollem said. He added that they can clog water pipes to lakeside homes, and even increase blooms of potentially toxic blue-green algae.
This is the first time the clam has been found in Vermont, but it was already identified in nearby bodies of water, including Lake George in New York.
Some have speculated the clam may have hitched a ride on a boat in tiny amounts of water or mud, and was inadvertently transferred to Bomoseen.
However, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources said it cannot be sure how or when the species was introduced to Lake Bomoseen, or exactly where the initial introduction occurred.
The agency is now pleading with boaters and anglers to clean, drain, and dry all their equipment to avoid spreading the pest to another body of water.
"I clean it off, I empty the bilge, and drain all the water," said fisherman Bob Wetzler, as he was putting his boat into Lake Bomoseen Wednesday.
Eric Splatt, the general manager of Woodard Marine on the shores of Lake Bomoseen, said he will be spreading the message about proper equipment handling to customers during the lake's busy Labor Day weekend. Splatt said he wants to see the waters preserved for great outdoor recreation in the face of this new threat from the Asian clam.
"It definitely is important that we take a look at this issue," Splatt said.
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation provides more information on aquatic invasive species on their website.
Wetzler said a tournament for the Rutland B.A.S.S. Club, for Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, is scheduled for Thursday, September 8 on Lake Bomoseen from 3 to 7 p.m. He predicted the Asian clam will be a topic of conversation as members compete in the tournament.
Wetzler also said anglers in the organization will do their part to spread the word about the need to contain the Asian clam.