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Great Lakes Article:

DNR confirms finding zebra mussels in Upper Mississippi River near Brainerd
By T.W. Budig
ECM capitol reporter
Posted on on October 24, 2005

A dockside discovery in Brainerd shows an aggressive invasive species for the first time infests the Upper Mississippi River.

A Brainerd boy recently noticed a small zebra mussel attached to a bait bucket dangling from the family dock in Rice Lake, an impoundment of the Mississippi River.

Local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials later confirmed the mussel was indeed a zebra. And a subsequent search of the lake bottom around the dock found other zebra mussels.

According to Gary Montz, zebra mussel coordinator for the DNR, this is the first time the zebra mussel has been discovered on the Upper Mississippi.

Although zebra mussels infest the lower river, it was previously believed they had no extended further north than St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis.

“It is likely that zebra mussels have become established in other areas of the (upper) river or adjacent backwaters that we haven't discovered yet,” said Montz.

There is no known way of chemically treating for zebra mussels that won’t kill other aquatic life.

Beyond this, chemically treating a river is virtually impossible, Montz explained.

Zebra mussels, a “D”-shaped mussel native to the Caspian Sea and first discovered near Detroit in 1988, currently infests the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, and the St. Croix River north of Stillwater down.

Generally under an inch in length, yellowish or brownish in color and striped, zebra mussels attach themselves to metal, rubber, many other natural and man-made surfaces.

Native mussels fall victim to the invader.

Once attached to native mussels, zebra mussels through sheer numbers can suffocate them or prevent them from feeding, Montz explained.

Zebra mussels clog pipes, and are often discovered by swimmers or waders who cut themselves on the sharp shells.

Some fish species such as drum do eat zebra mussels, as well as diving ducks, but a female zebra mussel can produce as many as a million eggs a year.

Predation will not hold numbers in check, Montz explained.

“Zebra mussels are not mobile on their own,” said Montz. Often the mussel is moved from one spot to another aided by humans — carried as larva in fish live wells, for instance.

The DNR advises boaters and anglers:

•Remove all aquatic plants from boat and trailer when leaving the water.

•Drain all lake water from live wells or bilges before leaving the access site.

•Wash watercrafts in hot water and let them dry for five days before taking them into a different body of water.

•Use the same precautions for other aquatic gear.

Montz does not consider the further infestation of the zebra mussel inevitable.

While species do replace other species over time, the movement of the zebra mussel across the globe has been unnatural and its dangerous to throw a foreign invader into a new habitat.

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