The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the presence of zebra mussel larvae in Red Lake in Beltrami County after studying samples gathered last summer by biologists from the Red Lake Nation.
The DNR has been working in partnership with the Red Lake Nation for over 10 years to monitor zooplankton in Red Lake and will continue to work closely with the tribe to respond to this discovery.
Zebra mussel larvae, called veligers (VELL-uh-jers), typically indicate the presence of a reproducing population of zebra mussels. No adult zebra mussels have been identified. Eight veligers were found in a zooplankton sample taken in the middle of Upper Red Lake.
DNR research scientist Gary Montz said it is highly unlikely that these veligers were introduced to the lake in the larvae life stage.
“Unfortunately, the most reasonable conclusion is that they came from adult reproduction within the lake itself,” Montz said. “Red Lake is a unique lake system—very large and shallow— it is not possible to estimate the abundance or distribution of zebra mussels in Upper Red Lake from this sample.”
DNR and Red Lake Nation officials are working together to determine next steps. Actions will likely include a combination of continued monitoring, increased watercraft inspections in the area and additional public information efforts.
Additional waters that are connected to Upper and Lower Red lakes may be added to the infested waters list after further review. This decision will be based on the risk of movement of zebra mussels to those specific waters.
Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, 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.
- 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 expensive damage to water intake pipes.
People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species.
More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.