Popular wildlife spot north of Payson closes to the public over biosecurity concerns

Jun 26, 2023, 4:25 AM

Tonto Hatchery has invasive mud snails...

(Photos by USDA Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

(Photos by USDA Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

PHOENIX – Thanks to tiny foreign invaders, wildlife lovers won’t be able to visit the Tonto Creek Hatchery any time soon. Non-native New Zealand mudsnails are in Tonto Creek, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) announced on Wednesday.

Since Tonto Creek is around 2.5 miles downstream from the hatchery, officials think the mudsnails may have infected the hatchery.

Currently, the AZGFD is surveying Tonto Creek to see how bad the infestation is. The Tonto Creek Hatchery closed to the public on Thursday to make the search easier.

“This will provide AZGFD with time to enhance biosecurity protocols,” the department announced in a press release. They’ll also use this time to “evaluate infrastructure investments” that could better protect the native species.

Why mudsnails are a threat to the Tonto Creek Hatchery

This is the second mudsnail shutdown this year. The public temporarily lost access to the Canyon Creek Hatchery in April after officials found invasive snails in the nearby creek.

Since New Zealand mudsnails aren’t native to Arizona, they can compete with local invertebrates for food. In turn, this can hurt native mollusks and sportfish populations.

This species is especially hard to stamp out because it reproduces asexually. It only takes one mudsnail to quickly overtake a waterway.

They’ve been a thorn in AZGFD’s side since 2002 when they made their first appearance in the Colorado River below Lake Powell. The snails spread through the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, according to AZGFD.

Mudsnails can turn people who want to enjoy the outdoors into inadvertent snail-spreaders. Go out kayaking or fishing and you might leave with a tiny mudsnail attached to your boat. Take that same boat to another body of water and the snail could start reproducing — and taking over yet another waterway.

It’s easy to do since these mudsnails are anywhere from 4 to 6 millimeters in length.

KTAR News 92.3 FM put together a guide wildlife lovers can use to avoid spreading the mudsnails.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Cactus Park Precinct...

Escaped prisoner caught by citizens at Phoenix gas station

An escaped prisoner was caught by citizens at a Phoenix gas station Thursday night shortly after he fled from a detention center.

1 hour ago

no motor vehicles sign near arizona border...

Arizona’s Sinema says Lukeville Port of Entry closure ‘unacceptable,’ unsure when it will reopen

The Lukeville Port of Entry has been closed for five days with no end in sight, a situation Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona says is "unacceptable."

5 hours ago

(Photo provided by Evolve Public Relations and Marketing.)...

Google Fiber internet service is slated for Queen Creek in early 2025

Queen Creek is set to become the third community in Arizona to get Google Fiber - a high-speed internet service provided by Google.

5 hours ago

No freeway closures are scheduled in metro Phoenix the rest of the year. (ADOT Photo)...

No weekend closures scheduled on metro Phoenix freeways through end of year

State transportation officials have no scheduled closures on metro Phoenix freeways through the end of the year.

5 hours ago

Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall....

Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall to retire after 10 years on the job

After 10 years on the job, Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall is planning to retire in January.

5 hours ago

Pamela Andrews...

Silver Alert issued for 68-year-old woman last seen in Mesa

The Mesa Police Department has asked the public for help as it attempts to locate a woman who has been missing for three days.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @iamdamonallred...

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Popular wildlife spot north of Payson closes to the public over biosecurity concerns