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NRCS partners with Tribes on invasive Japanese oyster drill control

Oyster Drill Damage

Thurston/Mason County, city of Olympia/Shelton

Project Summary

Japanese oyster drill are an invasive species of snail that feed on shellfish and barnacles. They are called "drills" because the snail attaches itself to the outer shell of the mollusk and then drills a small hole through the shell allowing it to eat the meat inside. Their presence is both detrimental to the production of shellfish and to the environment. In 2013 the NRCS began working with Tribes and individual shellfish producers to monitor and remove Japanese oyster drill from shellfish beds as a new practice under EQIP.

Conservation Partners

NRCS, Squaxin Island Indian Tribe, and the Nisqually Indian Tribe.

Resource Challenges

2013 was the first year that shellfish-related resource concerns are included under EQIP.  NRCS agreed to this approach as a result of concerns registered by both Tribes and individual shellfish producers.  Japanese oyster drill are an invasive species of snail that feed on shellfish and barnacles and are a threat to shellfish production and the environment. 

Conservation Programs Used

Under EQIP, the Squaxin Island Tribe enrolled 4.5 acres of their clam beds in Oyster Bay in the program and the Nisqually Indian Tribe enrolled 14.7 acres of their oyster beds in Henderson Inlet.


As part of the contract, clients are asked to keep a record of when they are monitoring and harvesting drill. They record the dates each activity occurs, and the amount of drill removed from the bed in gallons. Information collected will help us better understand the species, and help to formulate a management strategy. In this way, NRCS is working with shellfish producers to remove and control an invasive species that is detrimental to shellfish production and the environment. 


The inclusion of shellfish-related resource concerns under EQIP this year has opened the door to treating additional shellfish-related resource concerns in the future. Tribes and individual shellfish producers have expressed excitement at the opportunity to partner with the NRCS on shellfish-related conservation issues.



John Kendig, Area Resource Conservationist
Olympia, WA
(360) 704-7783

NRCS, Winter 2013


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