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The damage can include mangled boats, injuries to swimmers and fishermen and the shutdowns of water plants.
The cause are three nuisance species that are wreaking havoc on Kansas lakes and waterways - zebra mussels, Asian carp and white perch.
"A zebra mussel is a small, fingernail-sized clam - kind of a D-shaped size shell - and it's the only one in North America that actually attaches to things," said Jason Goeckler, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism's aquatic nuisance species program coordinator.
Goeckler said the mussel can cut the feet of people in the water, as well as damage boats. The adult version of the species is visible, but the youth, called vilagers, cannot be seen.
"That's why we have such a focus on making sure that people clean, drain and dry their equipment," he said. "Draining all your water eliminates all the vilagers, and the clean part is inspecting and removing those things you can see."
Zebra mussels build up blue-algae blooms, and also attach to hard surfaces.
"One of the things they like to attach to are pipes. Any community that is using an open water source for their water supply, and it has zebra mussels in it, they are prone to a shutdown," Goeckler.
Asian carp can grow up to 100 pounds, and silver carp get up to 60 pounds. The silver carp are known for jumping out of the water.
"Any time you see those videos of jumping fish, it's a silver carp that is jumping out of the water, causing damage to boats, equipment and recreational people," Goeckler said.
The carp are often confused for bait fish. As a result, Kansas no longer allows bait fish or live fish between waterways. Fish can only be used where they were caught, or if purchased from a certified bait dealer.
White perch are native to North America, but once they transitioned inland, they stunted in size.
"They're very voracious predators," Goeckler said. "They feed on eggs of our sport fish, they feed on different forage species and really cause havoc with our sport fish populations."
Goeckler said the best ways to keep the nuisance populations down is to clean boats and drain water, as well as letting the equipment dry.
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