Boating season may be over, but caution should still be taken - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Boating season may be over, but caution should still be taken

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SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (KTIV/KUOO) -

In the summer, the Iowa Great Lakes are filled with boaters.  That all changes when temps begin to fall.  But, it does give conservation officials the chance to look for things that threaten the health of the waters.

In addition to falling leaves and football, another fall ritual is taking place in the Iowa Great Lakes: The removal of docks and boat hoists.

When it comes to that, Mike Hawkins, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is reminding everyone to look over those items once they've been removed from the water for any signs of zebra mussels.

"These mussels will be very small, only an eighth to a quarter of an inch in size, and it actually makes sense to look at the hoist and dock after it's had a chance to dry in the air.  These little shells become a lot more visible once the surface is dried," said Hawkins.

Even though zebra mussels were discovered in a couple of the Iowa Great Lakes this past spring, Hawkins says recent testing turned up no additional zebra mussels either in the adult or larval forms.

"This is probably the best news we can have is that we're not seeing numbers increase or finding any more individuals, so there's that chance we may dodge a bullet. But we won't know for another year or so whether that's actually the case."

Hawkins says boaters need to continue preventive measures which include draining, drying, and inspecting their watercraft.

Hawkins says anything out of the ordinary should be reported by contacting either the State Fish Hatchery in Spirit Lake or any of the area Conservation Officers.

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