Two invasive species have infested one of the state's biggest rivers

Two different invasive species are in it
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The Minnesota River has now joined the state's list of waters infested with a couple of unpopular invaders. 

The river that drains much of western and southern Minnesota has zebra mussels and invasive carp, the DNR said Thursday.

Zebra mussels were found near the river's source last fall and in recent surveys they showed up as far downstream as New Ulm. There's still no sign of them in the lower stretches of the Minnesota, but since there's nothing to stop their spread, the DNR listed the whole river as infested. 

Meanwhile, two kinds of invasive carp – bighead and grass carp – have made it upstream as far as Granite Falls. 

Just like on the Mississippi and St. Croix, no schools of invasive carp have been found – just individual ones here and there. But the DNR's invasive carp coordinator, Nick Frohnauer, says on the Minnesota River “The tipping point was the recent capture of a large bighead carp with eggs. Although it’s just a few individuals, both male and female fish have been captured. This designation is a precautionary tool to help minimize risks."

Classifying the Minnesota River as infested will mean some changes in how the state gives permits to people who do commercial fishing or harvest bait. But the rest of us aren't immediately affected. 

What's so bad about these invaders?

You can learn more about Minnesota's invasive species here, but the short answer is they crowd out the native fish and mussels because they eat a lot and reproduce fast. 

Zebra mussels also clog water pipes, mess up boat motors, and cut the feet of swimmers. 

Bighead and grass carp wipe out underwater plants and hurt water quality. Their biggest threat to Minnesota, though, is that they could crowd out the sport fish that people come here to catch. 

To limit the spread of invasive species, Minnesota law requires people to clean the plants and other gunk off their boats whenever they leave a lake or river. You also have to drain all the water out of the boat and throw any leftover bait in the trash, not the water. 

The Minnesota River runs 335 miles from Big Stone Lake on the state's western border southeast to Mankato and then northwest to the Twin Cities, emptying into the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling. Take a virtual tour of it here

Next Up

aircraft-2385194_1280

Pair escape uninjured as plane crashes moments after takeoff

It crashed about a half mile southwest of Faribault Airport.

Screen Shot 2021-04-22 at 4.12.50 PM

For The Week: Making cocktails at home? Here's how to do it right

Lindsay Guentzel's For The Week column features simple food and drink tips.

coronavirus, covid-19

Mayo Clinic study provides 'best guess' about pandemic's future in MN

Minnesota could be seeing decreasing numbers into the summer if the study is correct.

daunte wright funeral - siblings

Mourners remember Daunte Wright, plead for justice

Wright was killed by a now-former Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11.

covid

HealthPartners: COVID hospitalizations driven by unvaccinated, middle aged adults

The health provider says the average age of its hospitalized patients is trending downwards.

Andrew Thomas booking photo

Man suspected of shooting at National Guard in Minneapolis faces more charges

He has now been charged in Hennepin County District Court with more serious crimes.

wetlands

Investigation finds EPA mishandled oversight for PolyMet mine permits

A new report found the EPA didn't follow its own procedures when it submitted comments on the proposed project.

baseball

MDH's new COVID guidance urges weekly testing for those involved in sports

Those not involved in school sports are still advised to get tested every two weeks.

Trey Lance

With loaded QB draft class, now is the time for Vikings to act

With a strong class, this year might be the time to select Kirk Cousins' successor.

Related

Report: Millions spent annually fighting aquatic invasive species in Minnesota

A new report, commissioned by The Nature Conservancy, says Minnesota spends nearly $8 million a year fighting aquatic invasive species. Minnesota Public Radio notes the fight is complicated because there is no single method to control all the different types of invasive species.

Penalties double for invasive species violations

Tougher laws aimed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, like zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas, go into effect Sunday, July 1 -- doubling fines for Minnesota boaters who are caught violating the rules. The Department of Natural Resources says about 20 percent of boaters are not taking the basic precautions to comply with the laws. The new fines range from $100 to $500 dollars.

List of waterways with invasive species grows

Just in time for Minnesota's warm-weather boating season, state conservation officials Thursday released a list of waterways newly discovered to be infested with invasive species such as Asian carp, zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil. Added were nearly two dozen lakes and stretches of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers.

Boaters forced to live with new restrictions

As Asian carp, zebra mussels and other invasive species invade our waters, the reality of Minnesota's long tradition of carefree boating is coming to an end. The state is ramping up its defenses by stopping drivers at mandatory roadside checks, doubling fines and increasing a fleet of boat decontamination units.

Lawmaker worries state fight against invasive species infringes on liberty

Minnesota's fight against invasive species such as zebra mussels and Asian carp includes mandatory boat inspections and fines for failure to clean boats. To State Rep. Steve Drazkowski it's more government that takes away individual liberties.