Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Zebra mussels, milfoil are found in more lakes

St. Paul – Invasive species are continuing to spread in the
state.

The DNR has announced in recent days finding three new zebra
mussel infestations – Pike Lake near Duluth, Lake Rebecca near
Hastings, and Lake Le Homme Dieu near Alexandria – and one Eurasian
watermilfoil infestation – Lake Florida near Spicer.

Of those, finding zebra mussels in Lake Le Homme Dieu, part of a
popular chain of lakes, was most surprising, said Luke Skinner, DNR
invasive species program supervisor.

“It’s out in a part of the state (where) we’ve never seen zebra
mussels before,” he said. “It’s a really low population, but it’s
surprising.”

Skinner said the find in Lake Rebecca isn’t surprising since
it’s a backwater of the Mississippi River, which is infested, nor
is the find in Pike Lake, since it’s near the Duluth-Superior
Harbor, where zebes first were discovered 20 years ago.

As for milfoil, it’s typical to find a couple new infestations
each year, he said.

In recent years, the DNR has been spending an increasing amount
of time and money on invasive species. Its budget in 2008 for
aquatic invasives was $3.9 million, which was up from $2.4 million
in 2007, Skinner said.

Officials don’t know exactly what the current budget will be,
but expect it to be the same or reduced slightly from 2008 levels,
Skinner said.

Some of that covers 80 inspectors who work statewide to educate
people on topics such as cleaning their boats before leaving the
water. There also are eight conservation officers who spend half of
their time on invasive species enforcement.

During a recent work detail on Lake Mille Lacs, where zebra
mussels were discovered a few years ago, five officers wrote 11
citations and issued five warning during a day of work.

“The awareness (of boaters) is up, and this is becoming more of
a focus of our officers – to keep this in the forefront to try to
reduce the spready,” said Capt. John Hunt, DNR water resource
enforcement manager.

Despite the recent finds, the state overall has done a good job
of limiting the spread of aquatic invasive species, Skinner
said.

“I don’t think we can completely stop them, but we can certainly
slow their spread and I think we have done that, compared to other
states,” he said. “We’ve been doing invasive species awareness,
education, and inspection for 20 years. I do think that has an
impact. Our surveys show 95 percent of the people are aware of
invasive species laws, and I think a lot of them are taking actions
(to stop the spread).”

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