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Invasive snails found in Utah fish hatchery

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WAYNE COUNTY — Fish hatcheries in Utah are going to see some changes after one tested positive for New Zealand mud snails, which is on the invasive species list.

The snails, which measure about 5 millimeters, were found in the Loa Fish Hatchery in Wayne County last month.

Pat Brown works at the fish hatchery and he found the snails. Brown says they started treating the water right away after they noticed the mud snails, and they've had success in getting them out of the water. Still, they have to get rid of every single one, and that could take a while.

"The research doesn't show any real detriment to the fisheries, so it's, in my opinion, kind of how invasive it is? It's non-native. How invasive? I question," Brown said.

Biologists believe the mud snail, many of which can fit on a dime, are spreading from fishermen's waders.

It doesn't appear they're dangerous to people or fish, but early research shows the snail overpower the bottoms of lakes and rivers, leaving nothing for the fish to eat.

"(We're) not sure exactly what the damage may be to the environment, but we don't want to risk any of that," said Division of Wildlife Resources Fish Culture Supervisor Terry Howick.

The state is only stocking fish from the Loa hatchery in Utah waters where the mud snail is already found, like in the Green, Weber, and Ogden Rivers.

A little more money will be required to transport the fish, but biologists don't want to infect waters that currently don't have the mud snail.

"It's going to require a major shuffle among the hatcheries, but that's our job, and we'll do it," Howick said.

DWR says the snail will have no effect on anglers.


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Alex Cabrero


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