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Zebra mussels confirmed in Lac qui Parle Lake

Zebra mussels have been confirmed in Lac qui Parle Lake, putting them in the waters of a popular destination for anglers and hunters from throughout much of the state as well as the Minnesota River system. 1 / 2
An angler tries his luck below the Churchill dam on the south end of the Lac qui Parle reservoir earlier this summer. Zebra mussels are now confirmed in the reservoir and the DNR is surveying the downstream area for their possible presence. 2 / 2

MILAN - Zebra mussels have now been confirmed in another popular recreational lake in west central Minnesota.

They were found in Lac qui Parle Lake, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported on Thursday.

The department confirmed four new reports of zebra mussels in Minnesota lakes: Lake Sallie in Becker County; Lake Andrew in Douglas County; Lac qui Parle in Chippewa, Lac qui Parle and Swift counties; and Big Birch Lake in Todd and Stearns counties.

The DNR's fishery crew based in Ortonville discovered the zebra mussels in Lac qui Parle Lake, according to Tim Plude, aquatic invasive species specialist with the DNR. He said the fisheries staff found adult zebra mussels attached to some of their buoy anchors when they lifted them from the water.

Lac qui Parle Lake is a popular destination for both anglers and hunters. The fishing and waterfowl hunting opportunities attracts boaters to the lake from an area including the metropolitan area.

It is impossible to know how much impact the discovery of zebra mussels will have on the lake, but their presence in the lake means they are also in the Minnesota River and could be moved downstream by the river's flow.

Plude said zebra mussels have established populations in other river systems. The flow of a river can be detrimental to the adult mussels. They attach to rocks and other hard surfaces and can get bounced around in a strong current. However, the zebra mussels can manage in backwaters of river systems where there is less current or none at all.

Jeff Randall, of Milan Beach Resort on Lac qui Parle Lake, said he and others had not noticed zebra mussels on docks or other structures this summer. Randall said he and others will be keeping a careful watch for them as docks are removed in the coming weeks for the season.

Randall said the lake sees lots of activity by anglers. He also pointed out that most of the anglers on the lake are conscientious about following the state's Aquatic Invasive Species laws. They pulling the plug and emptying water from their boats when leaving the lake, he said.

That diligence will be all the more important now to avoid spreading the mussels. Their microscopic larvae can be present in minnow buckets and the live wells of boats when taken from infested water.

The DNR will be surveying the Minnesota River downstream of the Lac qui Parle reservoir for the presence of zebra mussels, it reported.

According to the DNR:

Zebra mussels are an invasive (non-native) species that can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

Less than two percent of Minnesota's 11,842 lakes are listed as infested with zebra mussels. To protect the state's waters from the spread of invasive species and the environmental, recreational and economic damage they cause, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

• Clean their watercraft of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.

• Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.

• Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving infested waters:

• Spray with high-pressure water.

• Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two minutes or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 seconds).

• Dry for at least 5 days.

More information is available at

Tom Cherveny

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

(320) 214-4335