Aquatic Nuisance Species
Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) are invasive, non-native aquatic species that pose significant ecological threats to aquatic ecosystems as well as threats to the the local and state economies. ANS can include fish, aquatic plants, algae, invertebrates, mussels, viruses, and other aquatic pathogens. Some of the most common ANS found in Oklahoma include the following:
Zebra mussels are thumbnail-sized with striped patterning on their shells. The mussels attach to structures forming dense colonies reaching hundreds of thousands per square meter. A single female mussel can release up to one million eggs per season. Zebra mussels in large numbers reduce the availability of plankton and can clog pipelines, locks, dams and boat motors.
Golden Alga is a tiny yellow-green single-celled organism that releases toxins to gill-breathing organisms (such as fish and mussels) as it rapidly reproduces into blooms. Factors such as water quality, cooler water temperatures, other nutrients in the water, low rain levels and low amounts of healthy green algae seem to work together to create favorable conditions for a golden algal bloom.
Hydrilla is an aquatic plant rooted usually in the shallow portions of the lake, often becoming visible once it tops out above the water line. It has a long stem with whorled leaves. It can spread by seeds or simply small fragments that quickly take root. Hydrilla has the ability to become densely established and out compete native plant communities.
Didymo (commonly referred to as “rock snot”) is a diatom, a form of algae, that attaches to rocks and plants in streams and rivers. It can completely cover gravel and rocks, reducing the available spawning and feeding habitat for fish and other organisms. Over time, it can form mats so dense that they are no longer fishable.
White perch can quickly become the dominant species in freshwater lakes. Walleye and white bass eggs have been reported to make up 100% of the diet of white perch during the spring spawning period, resulting in significant declines in population of these sport fish. White perch have been migrating throughout the Arkansas River Basin and can be found in several lakes.
See the complete list of ANS in Oklahoma. If you believe you have identified an ANS, contact the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) immediately at (405) 365-5060.
Clean, Drain, & Dry Your Boat
All aquatic plant species and zebra mussels must be removed from boats, trailers, and other gear prior to launching boats in state waters. As soon as you pull your boat out of the water, remember to clean, drain, and dry it using the following recommended methods:
Prohibited Species List
Importing into the state or possession of the following exotic fish or their eggs in Oklahoma is prohibited:
See the complete list of species that are illegal to import into the state or possess in Oklahoma.
Bighead and silver carp are invading Oklahoma waters. If you catch either of these species, do not release them back into the water. Anglers are allowed to possess bighead and silver carp (living or dead) if they are immediately reported to the ODWC by calling (405) 365-5060.
Biologists at the ODWC collect data on these species to better understand their population status and the threats they pose to state lakes and rivers. Your cooperation is appreciated.
Shad may only be used as bait in the waterbody from which it was collected. Transporting shad from the following waters is prohibited:
©1998-2019, Oklahoma Water Resources Board