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Wolf Creek continues mussel culture

Service employees move a bucket of water into a tank.
Transferring infested host fish to a cage. Photo by USFWS.

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery staff decided to expand this year when it came to culturing freshwater mussels in suspended cages in Lake Cumberland in Russell County, Kentucky. In 2015 and 2016, one rack system containing four cages resulted in producing nearly 3,400 juvenile mussels for reintroduction. This year, Wolf Creek nearly tripled its production potential. Three rack systems and 14 cages were placed in the lake containing infested host fish for four mussel species, three of which are federally listed as endangered.

This project is a joint effort with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Center for Mollusk Conservation (CMC). The CMC provided rockbass infested with glochidia of the Rainbow mussel, striped darters infested with glochidia of the endangered Cumberland Bean mussel, and logperch infested with glochidia of the endangered Cumberlandian combshell and the endangered Fanshell mussel. The first fish were introduced into the system on May 23, and the final fish were added on June 21.

After juvenile transformation, the host fish will be removed from the cages and the waiting begins. With the abundant food and optimal conditions found in Lake Cumberland, however, exceptional growth and survival is expected when the mussels are harvested in the fall.

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