Zebra mussels provide meals for migratory fowl

October 10, 1993|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Staff Writer

In the current issue of Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservator is an article about the zebra mussel, the tiny striped clam whose presence within a few hundred miles of Prettyboy, Liberty and Loch Raven caused the Baltimore Department of Public Works to restrict fishing boats on the city's reservoirs.

City officials feared that anglers would bring the mussel into the reservoirs where it could block water piping systems as it has in the Great Lakes.

Officials thought that the clam has no natural predators in this hemisphere.

However, according to an article in Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservator, Diana Hamilton, a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario, has found that some North American ducks eat the clam and do so voraciously.

Scaup, bufflehead and goldeye fed on zebra mussels at Point Pelee on western Lake Ontario during their migratory holdover there in November 1991. Hamilton calculated that the biomass of zebra mussels at Point Pelee was reduced by 46 percent during the month.

Research by Richard Knapton, director of research for the Long Point Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Fund in Ontario, came to similar conclusions.

But before the zebra mussel issue is thrown to the birds, keep in mind that migratory ducks stop over for short periods only in the spring and fall.

While ducks may put a dent in the zebra mussel, the mussel reproduces too quickly for waterfowl to be a controlling factor.

Fishing for the nationals

Bob Dobart of Baltimore has qualified for the Wrangler/B.A.S.S. National Championship next April in Pine Bluff, Ark. Dobart finished tied for fourth in the Eastern Divisional Championship tournament held on the Hudson River in Catskill, N.Y.

Applications for managed deer hunt

The Department of Natural Resources has scheduled a managed deer hunt in the Sweet Air section of Gunpowder Falls State Park for Jan. 10-14 and Jan. 17-21. The hunt is for shotgun only. Prospective hunters may pick up applications starting Wednesday at park headquarters in Glen Arm or at the Regional Service Center in Bel Air. Applications will not be mailed, and there is a permit fee of $25. Deadline for returning applications is Nov. 12; the drawing to select participants Nov. 18.

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