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Zebra mussels on a piece of pipe taken from an infested waterway. The Minnesota DNR on Monday, March 11, confirmed zebra mussel larvae have been found in Upper red Lake. Forum News Service file photo.

DNR finds zebra mussel larvae in Upper Red Lake

RED LAKE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the presence of zebra mussel larvae in Red Lake after studying samples gathered last summer by biologists from the Red Lake Nation.

Zebra mussel larvae, called veligers, typically indicate the presence of a reproducing population of zebra mussels. No adult zebra mussels have been identified, officials said.

Eight veligers were found in a zooplankton sample taken from the middle of Upper Red Lake.

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause costly damage to water intake pipes.

DNR research scientist Gary Montz said it’s highly unlikely that these veligers were introduced to the lake in the larvae life stage.

“Unfortunately, the most reasonable conclusion is that they came from adult reproduction within the lake itself,” Montz said in a release. “Red Lake is a unique lake system -- very large and shallow -- it is not possible to estimate the abundance or distribution of zebra mussels in Upper Red Lake from this sample.”

According to a press release, the DNR has been working with the Red Lake Nation for more than 10 years to monitor zooplankton in Red Lake and will continue to work closely with the tribe to respond to the new discovery.

DNR and Red Lake Nation officials are working together to determine next steps. Actions will likely include a combination of continued monitoring, increased watercraft inspections in the area and additional public information efforts.

Additional waters that are connected to Upper and Lower Red lakes may be added to the infested waters list after further review. This decision will be based on the risk that zebra mussels could move to those specific waters.

DNR and Beltrami County officials confirmed zebra mussels in Lake Bemidji in November. Several other area lakes also have had reports of zebra mussels the past few years, including Cass Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish.

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to clean their watercraft and trailers 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.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, boaters can take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another water body:    Spray with high-pressure water, rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds), and dry for at least five days.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species.

For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/ais.

Forum News Service

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