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DNR discovers zebra mussels in Lake Edward and Mahnomen pit lake

A single zebra mussel is dwarfed in hand but the invasive species can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors among other mayhem. Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed zebra mussels were found in Lake Edward and the Mahnomen Mine Pit No. 1 in Crow Wing County.

A DNR invasive species specialist confirmed an adult zebra mussel in the beach area of a Lake Edward resort north of Merrifield. The DNR confirmed a second zebra mussel about a half-mile from the initial report site, a news release from the agency said Thursday.

In the second location, a DNR invasive species specialist responded to a report of a single zebra mussel in the Mahnomen Mine Pit No. 1 near Crosby and found multiple adult mussels in the lake. The Mahnomen Mine Pit lake is connected to Pennington, Arco, Alstead, and Mahnomen 2 and 3 in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

A more extensive survey of both waters will be conducted to determine how widely zebra mussels may be present. Signs at lake accesses were updated to alert boaters to the presence of zebra mussels.

The latest zebra mussels discoveries come as U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan on Wednesday urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to double down its efforts to combat the expansion of zebra mussels.

Wednesday's call to action came in addition to following up on his 2014 mandate for the Army Corps to focus on aquatic invasive species, a news release from Nolan's office said.

All across the country—particularly in Minnesota and the 8th District—zebra mussels are contaminating waters and causing terrible damage, the release said.

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. They are also reducing shipping efficiency in addition to killing snails, clams, and loons through the spread of botulism.

Less than 2 percent of Minnesota's 11,842 lakes are listed as infested with zebra mussels, but these are the second and third new confirmations of zebra mussels in a Minnesota lake in 2017.

Visit www.eddmaps.org/midwest/tools/infestedwaters/ for the list of infested waters in Crow Wing County.

This does not mean the spread of zebra mussels is inevitable, the release said. Zebra mussels are transported over land by human activity, and it's up to lake users to prevent the spread, the DNR said. It's a reminder to follow the state's invasive species laws:

• Clean 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.

When transporting water-related equipment such as boat lifts, docks, swim rafts or associated equipment, Minnesota law requires a 21-day drying time to destroy attached organisms before placing that equipment in another lake.

Go to www.mndnr.gov/AIS for more information.

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