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Zebra mussels found in Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County

A local resident found a zebra mussel attached to a native mussel in Pelican Lake north of Pelican Rapids in Otter Tail County this week. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists searched the lake and found both adult and young zebra mussels, suggesting that they have been in the lake for more than a year.

"Zebra mussels could pose risks for other waters," said Nathan Olson, DNR invasive species specialist in Fergus Falls. "Pelican Lake is connected to several other lakes and has significant boat traffic. Everyone needs to be extra vigilant to keep from spreading these pests to other waters."

Sampling of zebra mussels discovered in Pelican Lake.

The DNR will continue to search for zebra mussels in connected waters, especially downstream of Pelican Lake. Downstream connections to the lake could lead to the spread of zebra mussels via the flowing water as far as the Red River.

It's the first discovery of zebra mussels in Otter Tail County and the Red River Watershed. This is the fifth new Minnesota lake to be identified as infested with zebra mussels this year.

While there are no control methods to eliminate the zebra mussels from Pelican Lake, the DNR will initiate several actions intended to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels to other waters that are not connected to the lake.

The actions include:

The DNR will designate the lake and nearby portions of the Pelican River as a zebra mussel infested waters, which makes some activities illegal, such as transport of water and harvest of bait.

Signs will be posted at the public water accesses on the lake to notify boaters that the lake is infested with zebra mussels and new regulations apply.

The DNR, in conjunction with the Pelican Group of Lakes Improvement District (PGOLID), has been conducting inspections of boats on Pelican lake for several years and will continue to inspect boats on the lake and downstream lakes that may become infested.

Enforcement of invasive species laws and efforts to raise public awareness around the lake will increase. Under Minnesota law it is illegal to transport zebra mussels, aquatic plants, and water from designated infested waters.

Boaters can help prevent further spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species by taking a few simple extra precautions:

Inspect and remove all visible aquatic plants, animals and mud from boats, trailers and equipment such as anchors before leaving a water access.

Drain all water from boats - including live wells, bilges and bait buckets - before leaving a water access.

Spray or rinse boats with high pressure and/or hot water, or let them dry thoroughly for five days before transporting to another body of water.

Lake residents and businesses should also use caution when transporting docks, boat lifts, and swim rafts that could have zebra mussels attached to another body of water.

A nonnative invasive species, zebra mussels pose serious ecological and economic threats to Minnesota's lakes and streams. Heavy infestations can kill native mussels, impact fish populations, interfere with recreation, and increase costs for industry, including power and water supply facilities. Native to Eastern Europe and Western Russia, zebra mussels were first discovered in Minnesota in 1989 in the Duluth harbor.