Judge imposes maximum fine in zebra mussel case

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SMITHVILLE – An Independence man received the maximum fine for introducing zebra mussels into Smithville Lake last year.

David Wayne Frazier, 51, pleaded guilty in Clay County Circuit Court to a charge of transporting a prohibited species. Judge Janet Sutton imposed a fine of $1,000 and six months of probation.

The case is the first prosecuted under a provision in Missouri’s Wildlife Code designed to stop the spread of invasive species. It began on June 28, 2010, when fisheries workers with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) discovered adult zebra mussels on a private boatlift during a swimming inspection of the Camp Branch Marina. An investigation by Conservation Agent Scott Stephens revealed that in October 2009, Frazier moved the boatlift from Lake of the Ozarks, where zebra mussels already were established.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and MDC staff immediately removed and decontaminated the lift. MDC, in cooperation with the Corps, Clay County Parks and Recreation and the City of Smithville, used a copper-based algae killer to eradicate the zebra mussel infestation in August 2010.

The Corps continues to monitor the lake for residual zebra mussels. None have been detected so far.

“Transporting invasive species like zebra mussels, emerald ash borers or silver carp from place to place can damage Missouri’s recreation, tourism and agriculture industries,” said MDC Invasive Species Coordinator Tim Banek.

For information about how to identify invasive species and how to avoid spreading them, visit www.mdc.mo.gov/node/4086.

-Jim Low-