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New Snail Muddies Lake Michigan

August 18, 2008

Springfield, IL – The New Zealand mud snail has been documented in Lake Michigan. Although it's small, it's not welcome. Scientists classify it as an invasive species that can disrupt the food chain and displace native fish. Andy Buchsbaum with the National Wildlife Federation says invasives hitch a ride into the Great Lakes on ocean-going ships. He urges the federal Environmental Protection Agency to set a "zero tolerance" policy on ballast water they dump into the lake.

"There's technology out there that would kill invasive species as they're discharged from the tanks. The problem is there's no requirement that these ships use that technology."

Buchsbaum says the Great Lakes are being invaded by non-native species and it's time for strong defensive measures to be taken.

"On average, a new invader enters the Great Lakes once every 28 weeks. The Great Lakes can't possibly recover from that."

Buchsbaum's group and about a dozen others are asking the EPA to require invasive-killing technologies such as microwave and ultra-violet light treatment. The agency has rejected those requirements in the past, claiming the technology is not readily available. The EPA is currently considering rules for ballast water.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - IL