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Okanagan society dedicated to fighting invasive species asking for help

A cluster of zebra mussels that were taken from Lake Michigan in 2007.
A cluster of zebra mussels that were taken from Lake Michigan in 2007. The Canadian Press

A society dedicated to fighting invasive species is asking for help from the public to protect B.C.’s Southern Interior.

The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS) says it is launching a science initiative to help monitor zebra and quagga mussels and Asian clams in lakes throughout the Okanagan.

The society says the project requires two types of volunteers during the months of August and September.

Read more: Coronavirus: More domestic travel in B.C. could spell trouble for spread of invasive mussels

The first type are homeowners with private docks on the following lakes: Kalamalka, Wood, Okanagan, Skaha, Vaseux and Osoyoos.

The homeowners will be asked to monitor for zebra and quagga mussels. Volunteers will receive a pair of mussel monitors that need to be attached to the dock, with the monitors being checked every two weeks.

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The second type of volunteer will conduct shoreline surveys looking for Asian clams along Osoyoos Lake.

“Our society has been checking for invasive mussels for eight years,” said OASISS executive director Lisa Scott.

“However, this initiative will greatly expand our efforts to regions of the lakes that were previously inaccessible.”

Mussels intercepted by B.C. inspectors
Mussels intercepted by B.C. inspectors

Regarding Asian clams, Scott said they are already established on the Washington state side of Osoyoos Lake.

“The shoreline surveys will allow us to monitor and protect this high-risk lake from further infestations on the Canadian side,” said Scott.

The society says invasive mussels and Asian clams are not known to occur in the Okanagan, but that if they were to arrive, they could cause irreversible damage to sensitive ecosystems, and water infrastructure.

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“We are extremely concerned about the possibility of invasive mussels or Asian clams arriving here,” said Scott. “It’s imperative as a community to do everything in our power to protect our lakes from an invasion.”

Meet Major: The latest addition to B.C.’s mussel defence program
Meet Major: The latest addition to B.C.’s mussel defence program

To register for the project, contact oasiss.register@gmail.com or call 250-718-7901.