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Zebra mussels found in lake near Boundary Waters

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More bad news from Minnesota's war on zebra mussels: The invasive species has been found in a lake near the state's beloved Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say biologists with the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa found an aluminum can encrusted with zebra mussels in Crooked Lake in Lake County, in far northeastern Minnesota near the town of Finland, the DNR reports.

DNR officials conducted a followup survey using underwater cameras, sediment samples, plant rakes and down-imaging sonar, but they did not find any more of the lake invaders.

"Although we weren't able to locate additional adult zebra mussels on the first survey, designating the lake now as an infested water body is the right thing to do," Rich Rezanka, DNR invasive species specialist, said.

Signs will be posted noting that the lake is infested, which requires special rules for lake users and bans the movement of any water, fish, weeds or bait out of the lake, Forum Communications reports.

Other surveys will be done of connecting waterways, including Houghtailing Creek, Wanless Creek and Cross River, DNR officials say.

Zebra mussels have moved uncomfortably close to the BWCA, considered a pristine crown jewel of Minnesota's famed lakes system. WDIO TV in Duluth has a list of some of the Northland waters that have been infested.

There is no proven method yet to get rid of fast-multiplying zebra mussels once they appear in a lake, so officials are pleading with boaters to help prevent the spread of the invasive species, which cling to boats and docks, among other surfaces. The DNR again reminds anglers and boaters to remove all aquatic vegetation and to drain all water by removing drain plugs before they leave any water access or shore with their boats.

Zebra mussels can ultimately affect a lake's food chain, according to the DNR. The invasive species also can be a nuisance to boaters, cut the fishing lines of anglers, cut and scrape swimmers and clog the water intake lines of lakeside homeowners.

Zebra mussels are native to Eastern Europe and Western Russia and were believed to have been brought to the Great Lakes in ballast water of freighters, according to the DNR. The species has been spreading since it was discovered in the Great Lakes in about 1988.

More information from the DNR on zebra mussels and invasive species here.

The state routinely updates its list (pdf file) of waters infested with invasive species, including zebra mussels.

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