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Zebra mussels confirmed in Otter Tail Lake

A swimmer found a single zebra mussel in the huge Otter Tail Lake in west-central Minnesota, but a search of 3,000 other objects in the lake didn't find anymore, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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An invasive zebra mussel shown attached to a native clam. The invasives often muscle out native lake life. Photo courtesy Minnesota DNR.
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A swimmer found a single zebra mussel in the huge Otter Tail Lake in west-central Minnesota, but a search of 3,000 other objects in the lake didn't find anymore, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Yet, the DNR added the Otter Tail County lake to the list of five more central Minnesota lakes deemed "infested lakes."

Infested waters signs have also been posted at DNR accesses on West Battle Lake in Otter Tail County, Lake Florida in Kandiyohi County, Pocket Lake in Douglas County and a network of abandoned mine pits in Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Crow Wing County near Brainerd.

"While any new infestation is serious, it's important to note that more than 98 percent of Minnesota lakes are not listed as infested with zebra mussels," said Ann Pierce, section manager for the DNR's ecological and water resources division. "Boaters and anglers, DNR-trained watercraft inspectors and enforcement officers, lake associations and many others are working to keep it that way."

After the swimmer found a zebra mussel on a native clam in Otter Tail Lake, the DNR invasive species dive team searched 3,000 other objects in two different searches but said they did not find any other zebra mussels. They continue to conduct dock and lift searches, and ask the public to check their equipment and contact the DNR to report anything suspicious.

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In the other Otter Tail lake - West Battle Lake - DNR staff found one adult zebra mussel in the area of an initial citizen report and three adult zebra mussels about three miles away. The DNR said they will monitor downstream lakes in Glendalough State Park.

DNR researchers found zebra mussel veligers or larvae in Lake Florida while doing other work in the lake. Veligers can be inadvertently but illegally transported in water from an infested lake as ballast, in live wells or in bait water.

A swimmer reported a zebra mussel in Pocket Lake near Alexandria. No other zebra mussels were found during snorkel searches by DNR invasive species staff, while connected lakes downstream have had relatively heavy infestations for some time.

Divers contacted the DNR upon finding numerous zebra mussels in two abandoned mine pits in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area near Crosby in north-central Minnesota. The DNR is surveying other mine pits in the area. Divers and all lake users are reminded to carefully clean and check their gear when leaving or entering any lake or moving from pit to pit, whether or not it is infested.

Reports from citizens are frequently the first indication of a new infestation, and the DNR said it appreciates the partnership of lake users, county watershed districts and lake associations.

The DNR reminds 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.

In 2016, there are more DNR-trained watercraft inspectors and more decontamination units on Minnesota lakes than ever before. Watercraft inspectors check to ensure that boaters and anglers follow clean, drain, dispose laws and may deny access if necessary. Decontamination stations provide a free process of removing aquatic plants and animals.

Related Topics: OTTER TAIL LAKE
An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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