FWS Supervisor: "Flooding Absolutely Affects Mussels"

Dec 2, 2019

Mussels are another possible victim of this year's Mississippi River flood.

But we won't know for sure until next year.

Before construction of the new, I-74 bridge began, a company moved nearly half-a-million mussels which were located right where bridge piers would soon be built.

So, they were moved upstream to several existing mussel beds. 

Field Office Supervisor, Kraig McPeek, from the Illinois-Iowa Fish & Wildlife Service, Moline, IL
Credit submitted / US FWS

Kraig McPeek, Field Office Supervisor at the Fish and Wildlife Service in Moline, says the relocation plan includes monitoring the mussels for ten years.

The first checkup, more than a year ago, showed no major problems with their new home.

Then, the river started to rise, and the current got a lot faster and stronger.

"Mussels congregate in mussel beds. Usually they're somewhat protected from higher flows. But with this year's flood, some absolutely got displaced." 

Besides unpredictable weather and stream flows, McPeek says plans change with any construction project as big as the new I-74 bridge.

"We're in touch with the DOTs and would consider any changes with regard to the law, and best practices that could be implemented would be."

McPeek says it was too dangerous to check up on the mussels this year. But divers should be able to monitor them late next spring and summer.