Before Quagga Mussels Idaho Had a Snail Infestation
The name is New Zealand Mud Snail. It was first discovered in the United States in the Snake River, right here in Idaho. At about the same time, it was found in the Madison River in Montana. If you drive to the Idaho/Nevada state line, you can find signs in some places warning about its spread. Over four decades, the snail has now been discovered in all western states but New Mexico.
While small, they can quickly crowd native species out of streams. They eat many of the nutrients the other animals need for survival. The mud snails reached California 20 years ago. The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has an informational page explaining the damage caused by the tiny-shelled creatures. You can read more by clicking here.
For an idea of their size, the U.S. Forest Service and the United States Department of Agriculture offer a photograph. Pennies are much bigger than the snails.
We’ve been reminded in the last couple of weeks about the dangers posed by invasive species in Idaho. The news of quagga mussel larvae found in the Snake River between Twin Falls and Jerome drives home that the threat is vast and always with us. One actual adult mussel was found near Shoshone Falls. Cleanup by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture should be complete by late next week.
As for the snails, we’ve adapted and learned to live with them, but it still doesn’t make life any easier. As people move around much more often for recreation and record numbers of new people come to Idaho to live, we’ll require constant vigilance.
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Gallery Credit: Kyle Matthews