Protecting our waters from non-native species that can cause harm is a responsibility for everyone. The DNR is actively involved in educating and curbing the spread of aquatic invasive species. You can check their website to see which lakes, rivers, wetlands or ponds are infested or connected to an infested body of water. White Bear Lake is noted to have Eurasian Watermilfoil and Zebra Mussel issues. Here are the DNR Recommendations for managing this problem.
We have summarized the process so that you can be aware of the precautions needed:
- Clean all visible plants, zebra mussels or other species from your boat, trailer and equipment before leaving the water access or shore.
- Drain all equipment, including bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs. Keep drains unplugged while transporting your watercraft.
- Dispose of unused bait in the trash. It is illegal to release bait into the lake or another body of water.
- The DNR also recommends that you spray your watercraft and equipment with high-pressure water, rinse with very hot water and dry for at least five days. Some species are small and difficult to notice when at the access.
Zebra mussels are small aquatic animals with a striped shell that attach to hard surfaces in the water. They feed on algae and are highly reproductive. Originally from eastern Europe and western Russia, they were first seen in the Great Lakes in 1988 and in the Duluth harbor in 1989. They can attach to and kill native mussels and reduce food for native animals. They are also known to cause damage to boats and motors as well as clogging water intakes for cities and power plants. They are also a nuisance to swimmers and their pets when they cut their feet on mussels attached to docks, ladders and rafts.
You’ll find information on how zebra mussels spread across Minnesota from a The Star Tribune news article printed on July 30, 2017. It’s a hot topic! On July 31, 2017, the Trib also posted an article about the scientists fighting the spread of zebra mussels. The Minnesota DNR has specialists on staff to monitor the state’s lakes and help protect them from invasive species. There are also county inspectors helping in this battle against zebra mussels and other species, but we need eco-conscious citizens to help manage this problem as well.
In 2015, the WBLCD issued a pamphlet on zebra mussels that is still available in our offices and in some public libraries. The FAQ answers on topics such as how to dispose of zebra mussels and how to protect boat motors from getting clogged with mussels is still quite current. Check it out here.
Eurasian watermilfoil is aptly named since its origin was in Europe and Asia. This problem species was first recorded in Minnesota in 1987. It is a rooted, aquatic invasive plant with greenish leaves and white to reddish stems. The plant carries a short pink flower spike which produces tiny yellow flowers. It causes recreational and ecological damage by overtaking the native plants and provides unsuitable food, shelter and nesting habitat for native animals.
Through the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), you can find an Identification Guide to aquatic invasive species (AIS) that are high-risk for Minnesota waters, along with some look-alike species. The information was updated in February. You can Click here to download a printable version of the guide or purchase it through the UofM Bookstore.
Learn more about new threats: The starry stonewort invasive species was first found in Minnesota in 2015 and has since spread to at least nine lakes. It acts much like the Eurasian watermilfoil, damaging the ecological system. If you’re interested in reading about an invasive species new to Minnesota, the Star Tribune ran an interesting article in August of 2017 on the people who are tracking and stopping the spread of the starry stonewort, a new threat to state waters. Scientists and citizen volunteers have been helping to locate and minimize this newest threat. Raising awareness helps us all protect our precious natural resources.