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Zebra mussels confirmed in more Alexandria area lakes

by Mike McFeely

Zebra mussels confirmed in more Alexandria area lakes

 by Mike McFeely

This one slipped under my radar last week with all the North Dakota State football hoopla.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed zebra mussels have infested Maple Lake in Douglas County, a few miles south of Alexandria along Highway 29. Some connected bodies  were also deemed infested.

This is the time of year when there will be many new infestations reported because lake property owners are removing docks, boat lifts, boats and other water-related items from the water.

We all knew once zebra mussels became established in Minnesota waters that they would spread rapidly. But I think even the most optimistic people are surprised at the rapidity at which the mussels are spreading.

Zebra mussels are a thumb-nail sized mussel that multiply rapidly and crowd out native species. They can be damaging to a lake from both a recreational and ecological standpoint. Their sharp shells make it difficult to walk on the lake bottom or beach because. Also, because the mussels filter high volumes of water to feed on microscopic plankton, their presence can affect a lake's food chain.

Here is the DNR's press release from last week:

DNR confirms zebra mussels in Maple Lake in Douglas County

(Released September 19, 2013)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Maple Lake in Douglas County after responding to a report of zebra mussels attached to the wheel of a boatlift in the lake earlier this month.
DNR staff searched several docks, lifts and near shore areas in Maple Lake and found numerous small zebra mussels attached to several pieces of equipment in the north end of the lake. Further searches found additional small zebra mussels at the south end of the lake.
While no zebra mussels were found in Lake Reno or Turtle and Long lakes, these lakes will be designated as infested waters. Water from Maple Lake can flow into Lake Reno, and both Turtle and Long lakes are located downstream from Maple Lake. Searches will occur on Lake Reno later this fall when docks and boat lifts are pulled from its shores.
These designations will serve as a means to get ahead of an infestation, thus educational and enforcement efforts to limit the spread of invasive species will increase in these waters. The designations also will mean that boaters can expect an increased presence of decontamination units and crews on these lakes.
“These recent discoveries reinforce the importance of practicing proper aquatic invasive species preventative methods,” said Joe Eisterhold, DNR invasive species specialist at Itasca State Park. “We want to remind folks to inspect all water-related equipment when it is removed from the water at the end of the season and report any suspected zebra mussel discoveries to the local DNR area office.”
Lakeshore owners should also keep in mind that moving docks and boat lifts from one lake to another is a serious issue. Boat lifts and docks are of particular concern because they sit in the water for extended periods, giving adult zebra mussels a greater opportunity to attach themselves.
State law requires that all boat lifts, docks and swim rafts removed from any lake, river or stream remain out of the water for 21 days before being placed into another water body. 
More information about aquatic invasive species is available on the DNR website. 

 (Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on KFGO-AM in Fargo, N.D. He can be reached at mike.mcfeely@mwcradio.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)