Pesky Clams

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Pesky Clams

Q: Perch Lake is a 30-acre lake, very pristine, on top of a mountain. One member of the Perch Lake Association is having trouble with an overproduction of fresh water clams (the little ones that hurt your feet when you walk in the water on an otherwise sandy bottom.) Can you suggest a solution to these pesky clams? We cannot use chemicals in our water because the overflow from our spring-fed lake goes down the mountain into the reservoir that helps supply NYC with water.  
– Joi Brundege, Andes, N.Y.

A: To answer your question, we contacted Dr. David Strayer, an expert on clams and their kin at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. He says that he’s unaware of any situation where freshwater clams or mussels are becoming overpopulated. That means their presence and number are probably normal.

Strayer says the simplest method of removing clams from a beach area is to pick them up and take them to an area that has little swimming or water- play traffic. This should be okay as long as the clams do not belong to any of the varieties of freshwater mussels that are protected in New York and must be left in their native habitat.

Maybe your neighbor could take a tip from cabin people in other parts of the country who are used to rocky-bottomed swimming areas. In places like Washington State’s Puget Sound, bathers keep a supply of rubber-soled sandals or water shoes handy for walking in the water.