BEMIDJI -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resource reported Friday, July 9, that zebra mussels have been found in Big Lake, which is east of Bemidji in Beltrami County.

A Beltrami County aquatic invasive species inspector reported an adult zebra mussel attached to a native mussel near the Big Lake public access, according to a DNR release.

A DNR invasive species specialist found another adult zebra mussel in the same area during a snorkel search.

Big Lake is close to other lakes where zebra mussels have been confirmed. It is within the tribal reservation boundaries of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. The Minnesota DNR is working with Leech Lake Tribal natural resources staff to assess the distribution of zebra mussels in this lake, monitor this and other lakes and help prevent aquatic invasive species spread, the release said.

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Whether or not a lake has any invasive species, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean watercraft and trailers of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species,

  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport, and

  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.

  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).

  • Dry for at least five days.

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors and cause damage to water intake pipes.

People should contact a Minnesota DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species, the release said.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

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