FLAMING GORGE – An invasive species of snail recently discovered at Alsop Lake west of Laramie has also established itself in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
The New Zealand mudsnail is tiny on its own, but has the ability to reproduce into population clusters that number as many as 300,000 snails per square meter, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish.
“Under the right conditions, they can completely multiply and overwhelm,” Robert Keith, the regional fisheries supervisor for the WGFD’s Green River Region said.
Keith said the snails can quickly eat up the nutrients and outcompete other species for food. Additionally, if eaten by a fish, the snail can survive the fish’s digestive system by sealing itself within its shell. Keith said each snail is female and can reproduce independently of other snails.
The snail was discovered last year in multiple locations at the gorge. Keith said the snail populations found would suggest they were introduced years prior, but it’s not known when that occurred. He said the reservoir’s fluctuations will hopefully keep the snail population under control.
So far, the Flaming Gorge is the only place within the Green River Region where the snails can be found. According to the WGFD’s press release about their introduction to Alsop Lake, the likely introduction happened through fishing gear. The snails can hide in mud and get transported to new locations through muddy boots, they can also be undetected on waders and boats and even hide in plant fragments attached to boats, trailers and fishing equipment. Keith said the WGFD continues to promote its clean, drain, and dry program in hopes fisherman and other recreation-seekers will help prevent the snail’s spread to other locations.
This story originally appeared on SweetwaterNOW. It is republished here with permission.