Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists have confirmed a report that zebra mussels are now in Gull Lake near Brainerd.
It marks the second time in four months that zebra mussels have been discovered in a popular Minnesota lake. In July, the DNR found zebra mussels in Lake Minnetonka.
A Brainerd area dock removal service discovered the zebra mussels attached to a boat lift pulled from the lake and reported its findings to the DNR. The DNR surveyed additional docks and boat lifts recently removed from the lake and found zebra mussels attached to several boat lifts and to some aquatic vegetation.
In response to this new infestation, the DNR will:
* Designate Gull Lake as infested waters, which prohibits the transport of water and requires draining of all water including bait containers, and also prohibits harvest of bait.
* Place new signs at water accesses on Gull Lake to indicate the presence of zebra mussels.
* Increase enforcement and watercraft inspections efforts.
* Inform residents and business of what they can do to help prevent their spread.
It is not known how widespread zebra mussels are in the lake. The young age of the zebra mussels suggest a reproducing population has likely been in the lake for a least a year.
The DNR will continue to survey docks and boat lifts being removed, as well as survey portions of the lake this week. Anyone who finds zebra mussels in the lake should contact the DNR.
Prior to the discovery of zebra mussels in Gull Lake, the DNR worked with the Gull Lake Association and others in the Brainerd area to inspect boats and educate lake users in an effort to prevent the further spread of invasive species into Gull Lake and other Brainerd area lakes.
"It is very disappointing that zebra mussels found their way to Gull Lake," said Dan Swanson, invasive species specialist in Brainerd. "Being such a popular recreational lake and near other zebra mussel infested waters likely increased the chances that this invasive species might show up."
A nonnative invasive species, zebra mussels pose serious ecological and economic threats to Minnesota's lakes and streams. Heavy infestations can kill native mussels, impact fish populations, interfere with recreation, and increase costs for industry, including power and water supply facilities. Native to Eastern Europe and Western Russia, zebra mussels were first discovered in Minnesota in 1989 in the Duluth harbor.
They subsequently have spread to 30 inland lakes including Gull, Lake Minnetonka, Mille Lacs, Prior, and Le Homme Dieu and to portions of the Mississippi, St. Croix and Zumbro rivers.
Boaters and anglers need to continue to take extra precautions when using this popular lake as zebra mussels could pose risks for other waters.
Boaters are required by law to:
* Remove aquatic plants and zebra mussels from boats and trailers.
* Drain all water, including pulling the drain plug, open water draining devises, and draining bilges and live wells. The drain plug has to be removed or open when transporting your boat on public roads.
* Drain bait buckets when exiting lakes that have been designated as infested with spiny water flea or zebra mussels. Anglers can keep unused bait when leaving infested waters if they replace the water with tap or spring.
It is also recommended that people spray or rinse boats with high pressure and/or hot water, or let them dry thoroughly for five days before transporting to another body of water.