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Zebra mussels found in Detroit Lake

DETROIT LAKES--Zebra mussels have been found in Detroit Lake.

DNR invasive species staff confirmed two juvenile zebra mussels and two adults at two locations about a mile apart on Detroit Lake in Becker County, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The zebra mussels were confirmed within the last week.

Public lake accesses will be marked with warning signs and DNR inspectors will be spending more time at Detroit Lake on the short term, making sure that “people are aware of the situation – the water is infested with zebra mussels,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor.

The DNR will also be working more closely with water-related businesses, making sure they follow proper decontamination procedures for preventing the spread of zebra mussels, she said.

Muskrat Lake and Lake Sallie, which are downstream from Detroit Lake on the Pelican River chain, may also be listed as infested, Wolf said.

“If it’s directly downstream, we evaluate downstream waters,” she said. DNR staff “will look at those connections to see if it’s likely zebra mussels will go through them. If there’s a wetland or something in between them they may not be, if it’s totally navigable, they are likely to be listed.”

Detroit Lake is one of 10 Minnesota lakes to be declared infested with zebra mussels in the past few weeks.

A lot of that is due to the time of year, Wolf said. “Most are found by the public,” she said. By mid-August, “they’re getting big enough so people can see them, equipment is being moved and so forth,” she said.

The number of new zebra mussel finds this year is running close to last year at this time.

“Most new zebra mussel infestations are found and reported from late July to mid-August,” Wolf added. “Ten new finds have been confirmed this season, similar to the number confirmed last year at this time. We also add some connected waters to the list when their infestation is likely.”

Less than two percent of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes are listed as infested with zebra mussels.

It is especially important to wash boats after they have been in an infested lake, even if it’s just with a garden hose. Adding high pressure and heat, as with decontamination unit, is better yet, Wolf said.  

State law requires boaters to clean their watercraft of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species; drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport, and dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

If possible, air-drying boats and equipment for at least eight days after removing them from infested waters is also recommended.

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