These adult fawnsfoot mussels were photographed at Genoa National Fish Hatchery, Wisconsin. (USFWS photo)
Fawnsfoot Mussels Arrive At Genoa National Fish Hatchery In Time For Deer Season
Apologies to the deer hunters out there, but this article is about freshwater mussels. At Genoa National Fish Hatchery, in Wisconsin, we were able to raise a new species of mussel this year, with the help of our streamside, mussel rearing trailer.
Our first fawnsfoot mussels, a declining species regionally, were recovered from one of the rearing tanks in the trailer this fall. The trailer has proved to be a valuable tool for rearing yearling mussels to a size suitable for stocking.
This year, nearly 2,000 yearling mussels reached stocking size after spending the summer in the trailer. Over the last two years we've found that the trailer can also be effective in rearing young of the year mussels past their sensitive early life stages. This year, we recovered nearly 700 young of the year Higgins’ eye from our culture trials in the trailer, along with 18 fawnsfoot.
While 18 is not a staggering number, it was a welcome sight considering that we only started with a total of 364 individuals in the tank. Restoration efforts often start with small steps and for these individuals the next step is to spend the winter at Genoa National Fish Hatchery. Next they will go back in the trailer this summer to grow to a size suitable for stocking. At that point they will be placed in the Mississippi River in Pool 15 as part of an ongoing restoration project.
Next year, we plan to make another attempt at raising fawnsfoot, and with what we learned this year, we hope for more success next time around.
-- Nathan Eckert
Genoa National Fish Hatchery