The invasive New Zealand mudsnail may look harmless enough, but the true danger lies in how quickly it can multiply. Mudsnail populations can reach a density of 500,000 per square meter, out-competing native snails and insects that fish rely on for food. Although snails have existed in Western US streams for years, the invasive species finally reached Wisconsin’s Black Earth Creek last October.
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“We don’t know what the impact will be in Wisconsin, but we do know that there is no good way to eradicate the snails so we are focusing on containing them as quickly as we can and ask for citizens’ help in doing that as well,” said Bob Wakeman, who leads the Department of Natural Resources aquatic invasive species unit.
The small critter is causing widespread concerns among Wisconsin anglers and conservationists, who say the problem should not be understated. New Zealand mudsnails were first discovered in Idaho’s Snake River in 1987. Since then, the species has spread to multiple states and important waterways such as the Great Lakes, Madison River, and Firehole River.
“They’re just extremely resilient,” River Alliance of Wisconsin coordinator Scott Caven told the La Cross Tribune.