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A hand holding eight endangered Cumberland bean mussels.
Information icon Cumberlandian combshell mussels. Photo by USFWS.

2017 mussel harvest in Kentucky is a success

Expectations were high on Nov. 15, 2017, when personnel from the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Center for Mollusk Conservation anxiously harvested 15 cages that had been suspended in Lake Cumberland earlier in the spring. Each cage contained infested host fish and substrate suitable for juvenile mussels when transformation was complete.

The hard work and the long wait were rewarded as the cages were lifted after almost six months in the lake and the counting began. They collected 706 endangered Cumberlandian combshell mussels, 50 endangered Cumberland bean mussels, three endangered pink mucket mussels, and 1,047 at-risk rainbow mussels.

Water ripples over half sumberged greenish-yellow mussels.
Rainbow mussels. Photo by USFWS.

Mussels produced in this system will be released into the upper Cumberland and Licking River basins to supplement existing populations. The 521 Cumberlandian combshell mussels produced in 2016 more than doubled the existing population of that species in the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery and the Center for Mollusk Conservation will continue to partner on endemic mussel conservation and restoration.

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