DALLAS - In three years of interviewing naturalist Cliff Moore about zebra mussels, he's always struck the same chord.
He says weak enforcement efforts by the State of Texas to contain them to Lake Texoma, the only infested lake in Texas, would lead to disaster. Thursday he wasn't happy to be right about what's happened to Lake Ray Roberts.
"It's clear and convincing that they willfully disregarded their role in not taking preventative measures," he said.
Millions of dead zebra mussel shells line the banks of Lake Texoma. They wreak havoc by attaching to boats, docks, and water plants, and they can cut bare feet. They have no natural predators and they're easy to spread.
In a series of reports, News 8 has questioned the slow and poorly-funded response by Texas to contain the threat to Texoma. We even traveled to Minnesota in 2011 to show how it's done there.
That state spends $5 million per year fighting invasive species. Last year, 110 low-paid college interns inspected 65,000 boats, educating boaters about the problem in the process.
Since that time, Texas has made it illegal to transfer infested water out of Texoma, but has not charged a single person with the crime. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden for North Texas said Thursday his officers have little time to patrol boat ramps.
Texas now also has an education program urging voters to clean, dry and drain their boats so they don't spread zebra mussels.
Parks and wildlife says it will also ask the legislature to expand its power to charge violators with a crime, even though it's already struggling to enforce what's on the books today.