Zebra Mussels Discovered in Sand Lake National Refuge

July 7, 2023

PIERRE, S.D.The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Sand Lake National Refuge in Brown County.

"We discovered the presence of zebra mussels through snorkel survey, which is utilized on high risk and suspect waters," said Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, Tanner Davis. “Due to the discovery, both Sand Lake National Refuge and the James River are now considered infested with zebra mussels.”

GFP has been enhancing surveillance and sampling efforts across the state to monitor for the presence of zebra mussels.

GFP has implemented their Zebra Mussel Rapid Response Team to respond to this infestation. Through this response team GFP will work to notify anglers, boaters, and other recreational users of the zebra mussel presence within the lake. They will place high-profile signs on access areas, actively engage boaters using the infested water, reiterate information on decontamination requirements, and identify groups of people and entities that will be potentially affected by the infestation.

"Boaters and anglers in this area can expect to see additional reminders to 'clean, drain, dry' on physical signs, in their email inboxes, and on social media," said GFP Communications Manager, Nick Harrington. "We are in the peak of the summer boating season, and everyone needs to be doing their part to slow the spread of invasive species."

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.

"In addition to our messaging, watercraft inspection stations are set up across South Dakota," concluded Harrington. "Individuals are reminded if you see an inspection station, you have to stop and do your part."

More information regarding AIS in South Dakota can be found at


View All News