The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County near Glenwood. Earlier this week, DNR snorkeling crews discovered another zebra mussel three miles from the location where, earlier this month, lakeshore residents found an adult zebra mussel attached to the metal portion of a boat seat mount that was submerged in four feet of water.
Based on its size, the newly discovered mussel is 2 years old, which suggests that there are at least two different year classes in the lake and both are of reproductive age.
“We’re pretty confident that the veligers, or larvae, are in the lake and dispersing to new areas far removed from where the adults were discovered,” said Nathan Olson, DNR aquatic invasive species specialist in Fergus Falls. “At this point they are basically invisible to the naked eye. Later this summer and into fall, we’ll be conducting more thorough surveys when the young of the year become visible and begin attaching to boat lifts and docks.”
This is the first zebra mussel infestation reported in Pope County. The DNR designated Minnewaska, the waters between Lake Minnewaska and Lake Emily, and Lake Emily as infested waters. Although zebra mussels have not been confirmed in Lake Emily, water from Lake Minnewaska flows into the lake and this designation will serve as a way to stay ahead of an infestation, meaning regulations, education and enforcement to limit the spread of invasive species will increase in these waters. The designation also will mean that boaters can expect an increased presence of decontamination units and crews at water accesses on both lakes.
“We want to focus educational and enforcement efforts on Lake Emily to try to bring awareness of the potential presence of zebra mussels in the lake,” explained Olson. “If zebra mussels have been present in Lake Minnewaska for several years, the veligers are possibly already in Lake Emily.”
Minnesota law prohibits the possession or transport of any prohibited invasive species, such as zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil. Boaters and anglers need to continue to take extra precautions when using these popular lakes as zebra mussels could attach to their equipment, be attached to aquatic plants, or be present in water and pose risks to other waters if transported.
Boaters are required by law to:
Remove aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited species from boats, trailers and equipment before transporting from any water access.Drain all water from bilge, livewell, motor, ballast tanks and portable bait containers before leaving water accesses or shoreline property.Remove the drain plug, open water draining devises, and drain bilges and live wells; the drain plug must be removed or open when transporting a boat on public roads.
It is also recommended that people spray or rinse boats with high pressure and/or hot water, or let them dry thoroughly for five days or more before transporting to another body of water.
Boaters are also reminded of a new law that went into effect July 1. A boat lift, dock, swim raft or associated equipment that has been removed from any water body may not be placed in another water body until a minimum of 21 days have passed.
Lake service providers in the Lake Minnewaska and Lake Emily area should be aware of the presence of zebra mussels in these waters, and review their permits to ensure they have the provision to transport zebra mussel infested docks, boatlifts and other equipment to their businesses to be cleaned. The provision can be added to permits without charge.
More information about aquatic invasive species is available on DNR Website at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.
Logo courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources