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Great Lakes Article:

Zebra mussels invade 166 Michigan lakes

By Associated Press

   DETROIT -- Zebra mussels have invaded at least 166 inland lakes in more than half of Michigan's counties, according to a Great Lakes research group.
   Oakland County leads the state with 43 confirmed infested lakes. Cass County follows with 13, and Branch County comes in third with 11.
   Zebra mussels encrust on hard surfaces and can clog pipes, water intakes and boat engine cooling systems. They can impair reproductive activity of fish species that spawn in rocks and gravel.
   The striped, freshwater organisms also devour plankton and algae, which can cause problems for naturally occurring fish food chains.
   "They definitely alter the ecosystem," said Mike Klepinger, an aquatic nuisance species specialist at Michigan Sea Grant, a cooperative research program of Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.
   Zebra mussels were first found in the Great Lakes in 1988, when they were apparently carried in a trans-Atlantic ship's ballast water that was emptied in the lakes.
   Michigan Sea Grant and the Michigan Lake and Stream Association said cleaning all recreational equipment before it leaves the water can help slow the spread of zebra mussels.
   Other precautions include:
   * Removing any visible mud, plants, fish or animals before transporting equipment.
   * Draining water from equipment before transporting it.
   * Cleaning and drying anything that contacts water, including equipment, clothing and pets.
   * Never releasing plants, fish or animals into a body of water unless they came out of that same body of water.
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