Deep Creek Lake stewards are on guard for an invasion of non-native zebra mussels, but they aren't about to drain the Western Maryland waterway because of it, as a widely shared article recently suggested.
The posting on breakingnews247.net — a website that suggests visitors "write an article and prank your friends for fun" — said boaters had unknowingly introduced the bivalves to the Garrett County lake. In response, state natural resources police planned to empty it this week, "the only recourse that we can take to potentially save the future of the lake," the article said.
The truth is that introduction of zebra mussels to Deep Creek was recently thwarted, at least for now, and draining of the lake isn't on the table.
"There is no truth to this story. fakenews," Stephen Schatz, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, wrote to many Twitter users who were sharing the article Tuesday.
Schatz said the department was alerted to the parody article late last week and focused its public messaging "on the fact that the lake and state park were open and operational."
Friends of Deep Creek Lake urged supporters to report the article to Facebook, if they saw it shared on that social media site.
"There are efforts at all levels to confront this crazy misinformation,". the group wrote on its Facebook page. "We ask you to help challenge this sick joke and, of course, if asked, set the person straight."
The article has since been taken down.
Meanwhile, lake stewards are indeed on alert for boats that may be unknowingly harboring the bivalves, which are native to eastern Europe and Asia and have caused both ecological and economic damage across U.S. waterways since being introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1980s.
On July 9, stewards inspecting a boat that had recently spent the Fourth of July holiday on the Finger Lakes in New York found what appeared to be a zebra mussel in the vessel's intake system, according to state natural resources officials. The officials later confirmed it to be the invasive species.
The boat owner agreed to clean the vessel before launching it into Deep Creek. The boat was inspected voluntarily through the Deep Creek Lake Launch Steward program, established in 2014 to raise awareness about the risks of introducing invasive species to the lake.