While there historically have been native freshwater snail and mussel populations in the lakes of the Puget lowlands, many of
these populations have been decreased greatly by development, hydrological changes, their interrelatedness to salmon life histories and as collateral loss when fish management techniques have included applying rotenone to water bodies to kill undesirable fish.
Native mollusk communities have not been described for Lake Marcel. However, there is documentation of one non-native species that has been introduced into the lake and one that should be monitored because it can inhibit dam operations. For more invasive freshwater invertebrates, please go to the Washington Invasive Species Council home page at http://www.invasivespecies.wa.gov/.Chinese Mystery Snail
The Chinese mystery snail (Cipangopaludina malleata varchinensis) was first documented in the Pacific Northwest more than forty years ago, but very little is known of its spread or impacts on native snails or the ecosystemsof local lakes. There are anecdotal reports as far back as 1892 that the snail was offered for sale as a food item in Chinese markets in both San Francisco and Vancouver, BC. However, it is equally likely that it was introduced into our fresh waters from hobby aquariums
emptied into nearby ponds and lakes because it was sold as a tank glass cleaner, a job that it actually doesn’t do very well.
While they may be eaten routinely in some parts of Asia, the lack of information about the snail’s hosting parasites should make the would-be gourmet pause before gathering and cooking them. In their native habitat, they are known to harbor parasites such as flukes and schistosomes (the parasite group responsible for swimmer’s itch around here). Eating them is
definitely not recommended until more is known.
Describing the impact these snails have had on native species may prove a difficult task. Various local lakes have been managed in the past for fish communities, sometimes with little known about the effects that management techniques might have on other animals living in the water. For example, several lakes were treated with toxic chemicals such as rotenone to kill off nuisance fish species, which could have also affected other animal species. The introduction of the Chinese mystery snail might have been into environments that were already under extreme stress.
Other lakes in King County with known populations are mostly located in the southern part of the county, including Sawyer, Spring, Desire, Wilderness, Pipe, Lucerne, Killarney, Meridian, Morton, Dolloff, Kathleen and Shady.Zebra Mussels
Zebra mussels could be considered the most troublesome freshwater animal to have entered the United States. It is thought that the zebra mussels came over from Europe in the ballast of a ship that made a transatlantic trip into the Great Lakes in the mid-1980s.
Female zebra mussels can produce up to one million veligers (larval stage of the mussel), which may spend several weeks in the water column until they become heavy enough to settle on the nearest hard surface (rock, wood, rubber,
glass, fiberglass, metal, gravel). While they are floating, they may be transported to other bodies of water through hydrological connections or recreational boat engine cooling systems or bilges. Adult mussels can also transport themselves on the backs of other animals such as crayfish attach to boat hulls and to boat trailers. The mussels are rampant throughout
the Midwest and have been detected as far west as Lakes Powell and Mead and have recently entered the southern California
water delivery system reservoirs.
The mussels clog intake pipes at dams. They colonize docks, break boat bottoms and encrust engine parts. Recreational shorelines have been abandoned due to the sharpedged shells littering the beaches and the stink from decomposing mussel flesh. It is critical to be able to identify these mollusks, so that if they do find their way into King County swift action can be taken to eradicate them before they become established.
Zebra mussels look like small clams, with a yellow or brownish D-shaped shell, often with dark and light-colored stripes.
- They can be up to two inches long, but most are under an inch.
- They usually grow in clusters and are generally found in shallow (6-30 feet) water.
- Zebra mussels are the only freshwater mollusk that can attach itself firmly to solid objects – submerged rocks, dock pilings, boat hulls, water intake pipes, etc.
The most commonly found native fish in the Puget lowlands include several species of trout, but there are also many varieties
of introduced warm water fishes native to the eastern and midwestern areas of the USA. Because Lake Marcel is a manmade lake, there appear to be no records available of established native fish populations in the beaver pond before its excavation
in the 1960s.
Fish that are documented to live in the lake today include cutthroat and hatchery-raised rainbow trout, sterile grass carp, largemouth bass, and bluegill. The plant-eating grass carp were introduced to keep nuisance aquatic vegetation under control and not supposed to be able to reproduce. Bass and bluegill are popular recreational fishing targets, and are found in most freshwater lakes in the area, probably stocked informally by interested fishermen. Other commonly found warm water fish,
such as yellow perch and brown bullhead may be in the lake but are not documented as present.
An annual planting of rainbow trout is sponsored by the Lake Marcel Community Club; usually 1000 – 2000 fish are put in each spring for the fishing enjoyment of the community.Amphibians and reptiles
A number of frogs and salamanders can be found in the damp spots along the shorelines of lakes and streams in the Puget lowlands, it is very likely that they could be found under logs and along the shoreline of Lake Marcel, both as tadpoles
and as adults. A good identification book is published by the Seattle Audubon Society, entitled Amphibians of Washington and
Oregon by William P. Leonard. Some species that might be found include the northwestern salamander and the long-toed salamander. Many frogs and toads have been undergoing severe population decreases in recent years, several previously common species include the western toad, the Pacific chorus frog (tree frog) and the redlegged frog.
The bullfrog is probably one of the most commonly found amphibian species now in the Puget lowlands, but it is not native to the area and has been implicated in the decreases in native frogs, turtles and even some water birds due to both competition and predation. The bullfrog is classified in the Washington administrative code as a prohibited aquatic animal species (WAC 220-12-090). No license is required to hunt bullfrogs, there are no bag limits and the season is open year round.
Destroying bullfrog egg masses when discovered is another way to control populations, but you must be certain that the masses
are positively identified as bullfrog eggs in order not to endanger the native species further. In general, the native frog and salamander egg masses are produced early in the year and will thrive in cool temperatures, whereas bullfrogs must have warm water and lay their eggs mostly in June and July. One exception is the native Western toad that lays eggs in flowing water in the summer, however, its egg masses look quite different from those of a bullfrog. The toad lays its thousands of eggs in dual strings, while the bullfrog lays big circular masses of thousands of eggs that are dark on top and light on the underside. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife addresses bullfrog management and includes some illustrations of egg masses at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/frogs.htm.
The native western pond turtle and painted turtle are rarely seen in Western Washington anymore, although there are local programs at zoos to raise young western pond turtles and release them in the hope of reestablishing viable populations. Frequently, the turtles seen basking on logs in the Puget lowlands are slider turtles, introduced from eastern North America and sold in pet stores, then released by soft-hearted owners. There are also a number of records of snapping turtles found, they can be recognized by their massive heads and legs, as well as very long tails. Of the snakes found in Western Washington, only the several varieties of native garter snakes are found near water.
Many different birds make Lake Marcel their home for at least part of the year. Eagles and ospreys are commonly seen hunting over the water and a number of different kinds of ducks and waterfowl frequent the lake.
Many good bird identification books can be checked out from the library or purchased. Be sure that the book you use deals with birds found in the Western United States because there are East and West coast variations in some species.Canada geese
The native, migratory populations of Canada geese in our area were in decline before the 1960s when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with state wildlife agencies, purchased goose eggs from elsewhere and reared them in hopes of providing more game birds for local hunters. The eggs were hatched from incubators and the birds were reared by humans until they were old enough to survive on their own. When released in the Puget Sound lowlands, these young transplanted geese did not have parents to teach them to migrate and the climate was mild enough, with plenty of food available year round to sustain the birds all year.
The geese are a problem for lake residents largely because of the copious amount of feces they produce. The waste material is not only unsightly; it contributes to fecal coliform pollution in the lake as well as increases nutrients.
Geese can definitely be seen as a nuisance, but there are a few ways to deal with them. Landscape adaptations can be very effective. Maintaining grass lawns at a height of 10 inches rather than 2 inches works well. Breaking up visibility of
lawn from the water with clumps of shrubbery along the shoreline makes them less comfortable in an area, apparently fearing predators.
A harmless repellent (ReJeXITTM or Goose ChaseTM) derived from grapes is effective in keeping geese away from specific areas like golf courses, parks and lawns because they apparently don’t like the taste of it on the grass. Other methods to make areas inhospitable to geese include stringing low wires or very firmly secured (to avoid entanglement) fishing line on their landing sites, mylar tape or flags that flash and make a noise in the wind, and noisemakers. All these methods are most effective if begun in the spring before geese get in the habit of grazing where they are not wanted.
Many different aquatic mammals live around and use Lake Marcel, either as a watering hole or as habitat. This booklet focuses on those that can occasionally collide with human activities and goals.
Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) are quite a bit smaller than nutria or beavers, usually weighing between 2-5 pounds, but can be mistaken for them as they swim through the water with just a furry head showing. However, muskrats nearlyalways have their tails sticking out of the water behind them, while beavers never do. They are somewhat difficult to tell from the non-native nutria that is currently spreading in our area. Muskrats can stay under the water for as longas 20 minutes and can also remain motionless in vegetation with only their noses and eyes above water, making them very hard to detect when hiding.
They are good habitat providers for birds by keeping water open, but they can be considered pests because they burrow into banks for dens, which can destabilize the bank and cause it to fail. In addition they find certain wetland species very tasty, which can jeopardize some restoration work.Nutria
Nutria (Myocastor coypus) are rodents native to Argentina that were raised by farmers in Washington extensively between the 1930s to the 1950s. Feral populations have recently been discovered in several Western Washington lakes. At a glance, nutria appear similar to beavers or muskrats. However, they are generally smaller than beavers and larger than muskrats – adult nutria average from 11 to 22 pounds. The main distinguishing trait is the tail: unlike the beaver’s flat, paddle-shaped tail or the muskrat tail, which is hairless and flattened vertically, nutria have thin, round, hairy tails that are pointed at the tip.
Their voracious eating habits have resulted in billions of dollars in damage to native wildlife habitats and agricultural lands throughout the United States. Nutria breed at an alarming rate, so once they migrate to a new area, they can quickly become a problem. Nutria inhabit riverbanks, sloughs and drainage ditches and rear their young in large dens burrowed into banks, often creating bank and dike erosion problems. Nutria are also well-adapted to traveling long distances over land, meaning that it’s likely that they will eventually migrate to other King County lakes.
If you spot what you believe to be nutria at your lake, you can contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to discuss next steps.Beavers
Beavers have lived in King County since the last ice age. In the 1800s beavers were heavily hunted for their fur and almost became extinct, but now their numbers are on the rise and people who are not used to cohabiting with beavers are being surprised by the changes they can make.
Beavers are able to engineer the environment to suite their needs. They build dams and canals in order to create deep water near their food source, for safety and to facilitate the transport of tree limbs. By this process, beavers also make homes for many other animals and plants. However, beavers can become a nuisance if their feeding requirements and dam building instincts endanger your property. It is illegal to kill beavers in King County or to remove beaver damswithout obtaining the appropriate permits from the Washington Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and King County. Luckily, there are a number of techniques that may allow you to live with these animals in harmony.
Trickle Levelers: A trickle leveler—a perforated pipe placed through the dam—can be installed to regulate the water level after a beaver dam is constructed. The current created by the pipe’s many intake holes is so small it goes undetected by the beavers. However, Installation of trickle levelers is complicated and requires careful research. You most likely will need permits to complete this task such as an hydraulic permit for working in the water, so contact the regional office of the WDFW for help.
Fencing: If beavers are eating your trees, a four-foot high fence of heavy wire mesh placed around the trunk and dug one foot into the soil will discourage them. Live trapping: Trapping and/or relocation requires a permit from the WDFW. However, trapping is not considered to be an effective long-term solution because generally other beavers will move into the site once it is vacated.
Motion detectors: Outside motion detectors with automatic bright lights can deter beavers from your property. Some systems can also be equipped so that an outdoor sound system goes on with the sound of barking dogs or other loud noises. The sound has to be changed from time to time to keep the beavers from becoming habituated and ignoring it. It is VERY important to talk with any neighbors before employing this beaverdeterrent tactic.