(FOX40.COM) — An invasive snail that was first detected in the U.S. more than three decades ago has been found for the first time in Lake Tahoe, according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
Divers contracted by the Aquatic Invasive Species Program discovered New Zealand mudsnails at the bottom of the lake about a half mile from the mouth of the Upper Truckee River, close to the city of South Lake Tahoe.
The divers were surveying invasive weeds when they discovered the mudsnails, which have also been detected in the nearby Lower Truckee River, close to Reno, Nevada.
After the discovery, a team was assembled to survey the extent of the infestation and to share their findings with state and federal wildlife officials.
The New Zealand mudsnail is often smaller than a grain of rice and can quickly colonize new waters, the statement reads.
The animal was first found in the U.S. in the state of Idaho in 1987 and is currently found in 22 states, including California and Nevada.
The statement from the agencies says that climate change is one of the reasons new invasive species could take hold in Lake Tahoe and the wider region, and that lake visitors could do their part in maintaining ecosystems by cleaning, draining and drying water gear, toys, kayaks and boats when finishing a trip to any body of water, to prevent transporting species to another body of water.
“Lake Tahoe is one of the most protected waterbodies in the United States and our aquatic invasive species monitoring program is credited as the reason for this concerning discovery,” TRPA Executive Director Julie Regan said in a statement.
“It is critical that everyone remain vigilant and adhere to the mantra of Clean, Drain, and Dry. Every boater, paddler, and angler shares the responsibility to protect Lake Tahoe’s native species and the waters we enjoy.”