• Chinese mystery snails


    Left: Missouri Department of Conservation invasive species coordinator Tim Banek holds the shell of a Chinese mystery snail. Middle: A zebra mussel monitor in Lake of the Ozarks reveals the rapid reproduction rate of invasive species.  Right: Biologist Greg Stoner lowers a net and small canister into the water to test for invasive species larva in Lake of the Ozarks.

    Listen to the radio report:

    Follow the script:

    Mystery Snails 09/24/09 Liz Reed and Jenn Paull

    Anchor Intro:

    First zebra mussels threatened the Lake of the Ozarks and now Chinese mystery snails? Reporter Liz Reed investigates what these creatures really are and who is fighting them.


    (Nat sound of water and biologist working)

    You’re hearing the sound of biologist Greg Stoner sampling water at the Lake of the Ozarks. With just a soda can-sized container of water, Stoner can detect changes in the nutrients and aquatic life, which might indicate that trespassers threaten to harm the whole ecosystem.

    For the past three years, Stoner has monitored the lake for zebra mussels. But soon, he might be looking for a new trespasser: the illegal Chinese mystery snail.

    MYSTERYSNAILS RT: 0:19 OC: “Checking Boats”


    The mystery snails are a problem because they carry exotic diseases to fish and can transfer parasites to humans.

    Tim Banek is the Missouri Department of Conservation invasive species coordinator. To him, the appearance of the mystery snail in the Niangua River is really not that much of a mystery.

    MYSTERYSNAILS RT: 0:22 OC: “Illegal dumping”

    “When people get tired of their aquariums and decided they don’t want them any longer, they’ll take them to the local stream or local lake and dump them into the lake… it’s illegal to release anything to the wild.”

    Chinese mystery snails can also spread by becoming entangled in aquatic weeds that get stuck in boat propellers. They are then transferred into a new body of water the next time that the boat is launched.

    The snails are easy to spot. They can grow to the size of a chicken egg and usually live closer to lake and river shores.

    They were first introduced to the United States in the late 1800s with Asian immigrants that considered the snail a delicacy. Once in the water, the snails began pushing out native marine life in places like San Francisco.

    Missouri outlawed sale and possession of mystery snails in 2008. To date, twenty-six states are now infected with this invasive specie.

    One professor at Missouri State University, Dr. John Havel, said that the appearance of Chinese mystery snails will only add to the hundred billion dollars spent on invasive species damages each year.

    MYSTERYSNAILS RT: 0:13 OC: “Impossible”

    “Once the specie gets introduced and is noticeable, then it’s very hard to get rid of them. For most species it’s impossible.”

    The Missouri zebra mussel infestation illustrates what can happen when invasive species are not contained. In a span of three years, zebra mussels spread from Lake of the Ozarks to several areas all over the state including the Missouri River.

    Banek and other state conservation officials are working to promote awareness to keep invasive species, including the snails, from continuing to move across the state so quickly.

    MYSTERYSNAILS RT: 0:10 OC: “Unknown effects”

    “We’ve put up billboards, we have had radio ads, we set up booths at fairs and special events… Anyway that we can get the info out to them that’s it’s important to clean, drain, and dry their boats.”

    The state is not yet formally tracking the snails, but officials encourage nature lovers to be on the look out.

    MYSTERYSNAILS RT: 0:23 OC: “Volunteer networks”

    “In Wisconsin, there are volunteer lake observers who go around and survey lakes and report the presence of invasive species. The mystery snail is on their list and then they report that to state agencies. We’re using more and more of these volunteer networks and it seems to be a good way to go.”

    Removal of the Chinese mystery snails from Missouri waters presents a costly challenge. Some treatments can cost as much as two-hundred twenty-thousand dollars, and kill more than just the snails.

    Havel said the usual way to deal with the snails once they’ve appeared is to leave them be and prevent spread into other bodies of water as much as possible.

    MYSTERYSNAILS RT: 0: 24 OC: “Human awareness”

    “The main concern for me is that they stay in place. Draining your pond and you’ve got to get rid of all these snails, a lot of people would be tempted to take them down to the lake and let them go. But what I’m saying is that that’s an instinct that we should resist. You basically should kill the animals.”

    Although the fight against invasive species isn’t ending any time soon, Havel, Banek and other conservation officials will continue educating the public and recruiting volunteers to monitor what they cannot.

    With producer Jenn Paull, Liz Reed, KBIA news.

    ----------Posted on September 29, 2009 by in Student Work

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