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First case of zebra mussels found in DL area

Zebra mussels shown here were found on a boat lift from Lake Irene in Douglas County in October 2011. (Contributed)1 / 2
Zebra mussels have been found for the first time in the Detroit Lakes area on Lake Melissa. (File photo)2 / 2
outdoors Alexandria,Minnesota 56308
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First case of zebra mussels found in DL area
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The Alexandria area knows all about the fight against zebra mussels and now the invasive species has been discovered in another popular summer destination not far to the north.

Zebra mussels have been discovered in Lake Melissa near Detroit Lakes, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed last Friday.

The DNR’s discovery is the first time the invasive species has been found in the Detroit Lakes area, said Barry Stratton, southern manager of DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division.

Lake Melissa is about five miles south of Detroit Lakes and its namesake lake, a major driver for the tourism industry in the city and the region.

The DNR also searched Lake Sallie and Mill Pond and found no zebra mussels. But due to their location downstream from Lake Melissa, Mill Pond and Minnow Pond have also been designated as infested.

“We’re extremely pleased that this discovery was reported so quickly and with such detail,” Stratton said in a news release on Friday. “The report included specific location information and photos that allowed us to respond immediately to the exact spot.”

After finding zebra mussels in Lake Melissa, DNR staff also conducted a search on Lake Sallie, which is upstream from Melissa. The crew inspected more than 700 items, but no zebra mussels were found, according to a DNR news release.

So what’s so bad about zebra mussels? They multiply quickly — an adult female produces 30,000 to 1 million eggs per year, and about 2 percent survive — and filter up to a quart of water a day as they feast on tiny animals and algae in a lake.

That makes for clear water, but it robs smaller fish of food they need to grow.

Some fish species, like smallmouth bass and bottom feeders, thrive on zebra mussels, but they can’t put a dent in the population, and an infestation is bad news for most popular game fish species.

That leads ultimately to empty hooks being pulled up by anglers. Populations of some fish species have declined by as much as 90 percent in the Great Lakes, where the infestation first came to the United States in 1988 via freighters.

Zebra mussels move to new bodies of water by attaching to the hulls of boats and ships.

Minnesota has been battling the spread of zebra mussels for years. The DNR recently discovered the mussels in Lake Ida, Lake Charley and Lake Louise near Alexandria.

A bill passed this year by the Minnesota Legislature approved an additional $10 million in annual state funding to local programs devoted to preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels.

Prevention efforts often include inspecting boats and trailers at public access points to lakes and pressure sprayers to wash off any invasive organisms.

Kyle Potter
Kyle Potter is an enterprise reporter at the Forum. He came to Fargo-Moorhead in May 2013 after stints at the Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minnesota Daily. 
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