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Invasive species roundup: good news and bad news

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Eurasian watermilfoil has been discovered in Clear Lake in northern Meeker County, according to the Alexandria Echo Press. Fisheries specialists with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources found the invasive plant growing on the west side of the lake near the town of Watkins. They also found sparse growth in the northern section of the lake.

Eurasian watermilfoil has been discovered in more than 260 lakes, rivers or streams in Minnesota. It forms dense mats of vegetation and crowds out native aquatic plants, clogs boat propellers and interferes with water recreation. Boaters and anglers are urged to be extra thorough when looking for and removing aquatic plants from their boats and trailers

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that the number of zebra mussels in Lake Mille Lacs dropped for the first time since they were discovered in 2005. A survey this week found about 1,070 zebra mussels per square foot in the central Minnesota lake, a decrease of about 200 from a year ago.

But that hardly means a victory in the battle against the invasive species. Tim Jones with the DNR said it's typical for an invading species to ramp up in big numbers and then fall back.

Zebra mussels filter plankton, making water clearer and causing more vegetation to grow deeper in lakes, which can damage the fish food chain. They clog motors and water intakes, and sharp edges can be hazardous to swimmers.

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