Five new confirmed zebra mussels infestations in several central Minnesota lakes have been reported by the US Department of Natural Resources. Warnings have been issued for those areas in orders to prevent the spread of the invasive species.
The Zebra mussels are not dangerous to humans since they are just ordinary freshwater mussels originally found in Russia, but they were introduced by mistake in several areas and became an invasive species that pose a certain threat to the local ecosystem. They eat the local algae which are the main source of food for a number of species of fish.
The DNR became aware of the presence of zebra mussels in the local area after a number of reports made by a number of citizens and even by other DNR researchers, who discovered one more mussels in the lakes. The DNR sent a team of invasive species specialist to confirm the reports and determine how extensive the infestation is. They surveyed an extended area of the initial reports and a number of possible sources for the infestation.
The DNR has posted several signs with warnings regarding the zebra mussels infestation around the access points of lakes which include: Otter Tail Lake and West Battle Lake in Otter Tail County, Pocket Lake in Douglas County, Lake Florida in Kandiyohi County, and a network of abandoned mine pits in Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Crow Wing County.
According to Ann Pierce, the section manager for the Ecological and Water Resource Divison of the DNR:
“While any new infestation is serious, it’s important to note that more than 98 percent of Minnesota lakes are not listed as infested with zebra mussels. Boaters and anglers, DNR-trained watercraft inspectors and enforcement officers, lake associations and many others are working to keep it that way.”
To prevent the possible spread of invasive species and to protect the state’s water from the environmental and economic damage they may cause, the Minnesota law requires anglers and boater to adopt a series of precautionary measures. They have to carefully clean their boats after it has been in a lake, drain all water and dispose of unwanted bait.
The lakes in Minnesota have an increased presence of DNR-trained inspectors and decontamination units this year than any other previous time. The decontaminations stations offer a free and thorough removal of aquatic plants and animals.
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