Welcome to the beautiful Tippecanoe River! As an angler, you likely already know what a beautiful and vibrant area this is. Therefore, we want to share some information about how you can protect the mussels and the river while you fish here. Mussels are a vital part of our river because they play an important role in water filtration. This means they clean the water making healthier rivers. HEALTHY MUSSELS, HEALTHY RIVER!
The Tippecanoe River is home to 6 threatened/endangered freshwater mussels. While you might think that there is not much you can do to help these guys, that is not true! We can have a big impact on these mussels. So here is a list of the six most important things you can do to help save the mussels while still fully enjoying the Tippecanoe River!
1. BABIES GO BACK! – Put back fish with glochidia on their gills so the mussels can disperse. Check the gills of fish from the river for glochidia (baby mussels that attach to the gills of fish but don’t hurt the fish). Glochidia look like tiny grains of salt. Mussels attach their eggs onto fish gills so their babies can drop off in different parts of the river.
2. CARRY YOUR CANOE/KAYAK!
While they may seem hard and tough, like rocks, many mussels are actually fragile. Their shells do a great job at protecting them from predators but they can still be crushed. When a canoe or kayak drags over them in really shallow, rocky parts of the river it may crush the mussel! They may be heavy, but carrying your canoe/kayak will just add to your experience and give you a chance to cool your feet off in the water!
3. DON’T PICK ME UP! – Do not collect mussels!
They may seem like great souvenirs to remember your trip to the Tippecanoe River but please don’t take any mussels home with you! Mussels will die if they are out of the water for too long. Also, because they are endangered it is illegal to collect any part of the mussels, alive or dead. So if you really want something to remember your trip by maybe take some pictures or keep a journal of the wildlife that you saw!
4. DON’T LITTER – Pick up your trash!
It may seem easy to drop your sandwich bag on the river shore or your apple core in the river, but if you have any trash from your trip please take it with you to the nearest trash receptacle! Mussels work really hard to keep the river clean and any extra trash just makes their job harder. The Tippecanoe is a beautiful, clean river and you can help keep it that way!
5. TAKE THE PLEDGE!
Commit to helping us save the mighty mussels! By signing our pledge you agree to carry your canoe/kayak, not collect mussels and pick up your trash. The pledge can be found at canoe rental stores along the river, public access points, the nature center in Tippecanoe River State Park, and on our website. Take the pledge and receive a prize!
6. Wash your boat!
Mussels and many other species are vulnerable to the spread of invasive species. Controlling the spread of invasives is very easy! Simply wash your boat when transporting it from one place to another and either freeze your other material or allow it to dry completely over the course of a week.