The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is investigating a report that a zebra mussel was found in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County near Glenwood. While removing trash blown into the lake from a severe storm last summer, lakeshore residents found what appears to be an adult zebra mussel attached to the metal portion of a boat seat mount that was submerged in four feet of water.
On July 18, DNR snorkeling crews conducted a shoreline survey to confirm the presence of a zebra mussel population and determine the extent of any infestation. The immediate search did not turn up additional zebra mussels around the site where the boat seat mount was found. Additional searches are underway reaching outward from the discovery site.
"We want to start at ground zero and then work outward," said Nathan Olson, aquatic invasive species specialist in Fergus Falls. "We didn't find any mussels in the spot where the boat seat mount was located, so we will search the surrounding area, moving further and further outward."
If zebra mussels are not immediately confirmed, more thorough surveys will be conducted this fall when boat lifts and docks, which sit in the water for extended periods and give adult zebra mussels a greater opportunity to attach themselves, are pulled from the water.
This would be the first zebra mussel infestation reported in Pope County. The DNR will designate Minnewaska as an infested water and educational and enforcement efforts to limit the spread of invasive species will increase at the lake. Boaters can also expect an increased presence of decontamination units and crews.
Minnesota law prohibits the possession or transport of any aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the state. AIS include, but are not limited to, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas. Boaters and anglers need to continue to take extra precautions when using this popular lake as zebra mussels could pose risks for other waters.
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 before transporting to another body of water.
Boaters are also reminded of the new law that went into effect July 1 regarding boat lifts and docks: 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.
More information about aquatic invasive species is available on DNR website at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/index_aquatic.html.