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Zebra mussels confirmed in Lake Stella in Meeker County

HUTCHINSON – Two popular Meeker County lakes now join the growing list of lakes in Minnesota infested by zebra mussels.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday that zebra mussels have been found in Lake Stella.  It is now designated as an infested lake. The DNR will also apply the designation on Washington Lake, immediately downstream, although no zebra mussels have been found in it yet.

A property owner on Lake Stella brought a zebra mussel to the Hutchinson DNR office for positive identification on July 6, according to the DNR. He had found it attached to a native mussel in about three feet of water in Lake Stella.

Nicholas Brown, DNR invasive species specialist, confirmed the specimen was an adult zebra mussel. A second zebra mussel was later reported by the property owner in a different part of the lake. Brown confirmed that one too.

Preventing the spread of invasive species requires personal responsibility. Before leaving a lake, aquatic invasive species laws require boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean aquatic plants and animals from watercraft.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

“We want to stress that lake users need to be diligent in following the laws, including inspecting, cleaning, and draining boats and disposing of unwanted bait in the trash,” Brown said. “Following these steps will help prevent the spread of all invasive species.”

When removing boats, docks, lifts, or other water-related equipment from lakes and rivers, carefully inspect everything to make sure there are no invasive species such as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil or New Zealand mudsnails attached. Examine posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as boats, pontoons and rafts that have been in water for an extended period. Docks and related equipment must be allowed to dry for 21 days before moving them into another body of water.

For more information on AIS prevention and how to report a suspected infestation,

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335