The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Wednesday that it has received five reports about lakes infested with zebra mussels. According to the reports, five lakes in central Minnesota are currently infested with the extremely invasive species.
DNR authorities believe that they now have to deal with a new zebra mussel invasion. Fortunately, only 2 percent of the state’s lakes are affected. The lakes with mussel problems are two lakes in Otter Tail County (Otter Tail Lake and West Battle Lake), one lake in Kandiyohi County (Lake Florida), another one in Douglas County (Pocket Lake) and a vast network of closed mine pits in Crow Wing County.
A spokesperson for the DNR said Wednesday that the good news is the department’s fleet of anglers, boaters, officers and decontamination agents are working to ensure that 98 percent of the state’s lakes remain zebra mussel-free.
For West Battle Lake, authorities said that they confirmed reports of a possible infestation when they found one zebra mussel at the site pointed by a citizen and three extra zebra mussels nearly three miles farther away.
In Otter Tail Lake, a zebra mussel glued to a clam was found by a local swimmer, but inspectors found no other mussels in the lake area. DNR workers are poised to inspect all docks and lifts, while they urge swimmers to report any suspicious activity on the lake
In Lake Florida, zebra mussel infestation was confirmed by a team of DNR researchers who spotted mussel larvae also known as veligers while they were performing other job tasks in the lake.
Another swimmer reported a sighting of a zebra mussel in Pocket lake. DNR divers found no other specimens, but the department noted that downstream lakes were recently affected by notable infestations.
Two zebra mussels were found by DNR inspectors in the abandoned mine pits in Crow Wing County.
The public is now asked to check their equipment before and after leaving the contaminated lakes. Under the state law, boaters must ensure that they clear boats of mussels and aquatic plants and that they remove all water from their drain plugs after leaving any river or lake. Additionally, anglers are required to trash all unused bait upon leaving.
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