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From today's Duluth Paper:

Zebra mussels have been found in Pike Lake outside Duluth, the first confirmed outbreak in a Northeastern Minnesota waterway outside Lake Superior.

The mussels were reported by a local scuba diver and have been confirmed by Doug Jensen, Minnesota Sea Grant aquatic nuisance species expert.

The finding comes 20 years after zebra mussels first were confirmed in the Duluth-Superior harbor of lake Superior.

While the mussels can’t move far on their own they are often spread unwittingly by boaters and anglers when the thumbnail size critters hitchhike in bait buckets and on other gear.

“It’s a little surprising that it hadn’t spread earlier to an inland lake up here.’’ Jensen said. “It’s an indication that actions by boaters and anglers have helped slow the spread. … But some of them (zebra mussels) apparently slipped through the cracks.’’

Jensen said it appears the mussels have been in the lake for at least two years but that the infestation appears to be in its early stages.

“There’s no tool in the toolbox to get them out of there at this point,’’ Jen-sen said, adding that extra efforts now are needed to keep the Pike Lake mussels from moving in boats or bait buckets to other nearby lakes.

Jay Rendall, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invasive species prevention coordinator, agreed. The DNR will declare the lake an officially infested water and, by state law, it will be illegal to move any water, live fish or live bait out of the lake.

Residents soon can expect to find zebra mussels on any smooth underwater surface, from docks and rocks to logs and concrete.

In addition to the Twin Ports harbor and Pike Lake, zebra mussels already have moved into Mille Lacs, Prior and Le Homme Dieu lakes in southern Minnesota and portions of the Mississippi, St. Croix and Zumbro rivers.

Jensen said residents and visitors to the lake may notice Pike Lake getting clearer because each little zebra mussel can filter a liter of water each day. That may sound good, but it means the zebra mussels are using up the tiny plants and animals that start the food chain for larger fish and invertebrates.

In some places, zebra mussels have caused native clams to go extinct. In Lake Michigan, similar quagga mussels have spurred a small shrimp-like creature, a major source of food for game fish, to nearly vanish.

“The water looks clearer, but they are robbing the lake of the little food,’’ Jensen said. “But measuring what the long-term impact on any specific lake might be is difficult. Every system is different and they react differently.’’

Jensen said residents may also see sharp zebra mussel shells washing up on beaches in coming years and may see the mussels attach to boats that are left unused in the water for a time.

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Stop the spread

To help stop aquatic hitchhikers like zebra mussels, boaters can take a few simple precautions:

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

- Inspect and remove all visible aquatic plants, animals or mud from docks, boat lifts and swim rafts before transporting to another lake or stream.

- 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 moving to another lake or stream.

- Under Minnesota law, it is illegal to transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited species — knowingly or unknowingly. Violators could face fines up to $500.

Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Re-sources

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Unfortunately that doesn't surprise me...I figured they'd make it into 1 (or all) of the resevoirs first.

When I was in grand marais a couple weeks ago I was amazed at the number of new lakes infested with spiny water flea. They are seriously in every one of the major lakes up there!

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With more and more boats going from the big lake and the river to inland lakes it was bound to happen. Really no way to stop it. Except letting your boat site for a few days before going inland. Even a good washing isnt 100% fool proof.

Im sure Island, Fish and the others have them too they just havent been found yet. Pike probably gets the least trafic of them all.

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It's an unfortunate thing but moving boats from infested water into uninfested water caries a risk. While I always disinfect my live wells and wash my boat if I go to a new water, often I've wondered if it is enough. But to me the more likely scenario is that someone, likely many more than one, threw the boat on the trailer after boating in the bay and just dropped it in Pile Lake without making any attempt to clean/disinfect boat and trailer. None off us are the invasive species police. It's only public awareness and due diligence collectively with our equipment that will slow down and/or prevent new infections.

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While cleaning boats is helpful in the fight against invaders but, birds and animals also carry them from lake to lake.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

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