Dock Removals Continuing Across Eastern South Dakota

October 11, 2023

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has been working with private individuals and dock removal companies to prepare for the winter seasons and continue to survey lakes and rivers across the state for the presence of zebra mussels.

"Boat dock removal companies and private individuals are a key partner for aquatic invasive species (AIS) surveillance efforts," said Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, Tanner Davis. "As boat docks are removed in the fall, these make for a perfect sampling platform for each waterbody."

Fall is an excellent time to investigate these structures as juvenile zebra mussels, settlers, will have attached if present. New mussel development will not be noticed until late August through October. Dock inspections occur when they are pulled out for the season before ice cover and therefore do not impact any use of these structures in the summer months. 

"While pulling docks, one of the dock removal companies reported finding zebra mussels on several structures," said Davis. "The zebra mussels were confirmed by fisheries staff following these findings."

Following this detection, Big Stone Lake is now considered infested for zebra mussels. The Zebra Mussel Rapid Response Team will place high-profile signs on access areas, actively engage boaters using the infested water, reiterate information on decontamination requirements, and communicate with groups of people and entities that will be potentially affected by the infestation.

"Identifying and working with impacted individuals is a key part of our Rapid Response Plan," Davis continued. "We want to make sure everyone is aware of the infestation, and it's possible impacts, and continue to communicate with them regarding next steps."

"Effective education and outreach is key for slowing the spread of AIS," said GFP Communications Manager, Nick Harrington. "Individuals taking the time to inspect for zebra mussels, being able to identify them, and swiftly reporting them to GFP show our methods are working." 

GFP has significantly enhanced efforts to slow the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in recent years, both educating anglers and boaters to clean, drain, dry every time they are on the water as well as physically inspecting boats prior to and/or after loading.

"It may be October, but hunters, anglers, and boaters are reminded to clean, drain, and dry every time they are out enjoying the water,” concluded Harrington.

You can learn more about AIS by visiting


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