Battling The Invasive Apple Snail

Apple Snails

AZGFD Biologists To Float Down Lower Salt River To Battle Invasive Apple Snail

Apple Snail Eggs
Apple Snail Eggs

MESA, Ariz. — Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists and the local kayaking community are joining forces to battle an invasive snail that, left unchallenged, could negatively impact native snail populations, vegetation and fishing along the Lower Salt River.

Last month a flotilla of more than 20 kayakers donned life jackets, grabbed their paddles and set off down the Lower Salt River northeast of Mesa looking for apple snail egg masses.

A group of citizen scientists from Sea Life Arizona Aquarium will again join AZGFD and Tonto National Forest biologists on Friday, Aug. 11 to help count, smash and drown the bright pink egg sacks into the depths of the Lower Salt River.

“Apple snails were originally introduced to Arizona through the pet trade,” said Jeff Sorensen, AZGFD Invertebrate Wildlife program manager, who is leading the project. “Unfortunately, when owners get tired of caring for them, some of these snails are released into our waterways, where they out-compete native species for food and territory. That has a ripple effect on aquatic species, vegetation and consequently our fish.”

Adult apple snails can grow as large as golf balls. Females produce large egg sacks, which resemble pink bubble gum stuck to cattail stalks lining waterways, such as the Lower Salt River.

Apple snails can lay a clutch of 25-500 eggs every 12 to 15 days.

“Just one female apple snail can produce up to 15,000 offspring per year. That is why it’s important for us to engage the public, and our local kayaking and tubing communities to help battle this invasive species,” Sorensen said.

Those wishing to join the battle against the invasive snail can simply smack the egg sacks into the water with a paddle or stick and the eggs will drown. However, use care when coming into contact with the snails as they are an intermediate host for the rat lungworm, which is a nematode that can cause meningitis in humans.

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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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