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Zebra mussels found in Gilbert, North Long lakes

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Property owners on one of two Brainerd area lakes where adult zebra mussels were recently discovered expressed disappointment at the news on Thursday.

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The DNR on Thursday reported the discovery of the zebra mussels and declared both Gilbert Lake and North Long Lake as infested.

"We hoped and hoped and hoped we wouldn't get it," said Kay Hondo, president of the North Long Lake Association.

She said her association spent money for boat inspectors to try to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

"My assumption is that we would continue to do whatever we can," she said of prevention efforts. "It's very discouraging. No matter how carefully we tried to have boat inspectors ... my understanding is they can be so minute they transfer."

John Gordon, co-owner with his wife, Kristi, of the Train Bell Resort in Merrifield, said he was disappointed, but he remained hopeful experts will figure out something to do about the problem.

"It's on the radar and we're always watching and looking and we're trying to be as proactive as we can," Gordon said.

Gordon is a member of the North Long Lake Association Board.

Both Gordon and Hondo said the association has had some success in treating a location in Merrifield Bay for curly-leaf pondweed. They said there is no known treatment for zebra mussels at this time.

According to the DNR, the initial discovery was reported by the parents of two young boys who retrieved a plastic container with attached zebra mussels while snorkeling in Gilbert Lake. A few days later, children swimming in North Long Lake found zebra mussels and their parents reported this discovery to DNR. Following the positive identification of the zebra mussels, DNR aquatic biologists searched both lakes and found additional specimens to confirm the diagnosis.

"These young people and their parents saw something that looked out of place, reported it right away and assisted us in making a swift diagnosis of the problem," said DNR invasive species specialist Dan Swanson in a news release. "It's another good reminder to be informed about what invasive species look like, save a sample and report it as soon as you can. Early detection and slowing the spread is still our best means of control."

Gilbert Lake (DNR public waters inventory number 18-0320) and North Long Lake (DNR public waters inventory number 18-0372), are now designated as infested and signs will be posted at public accesses to alert recreationists.

People should look for infested waters signage at public accesses, according to the DNR. Signs will allow recreationists and other resource partners to be aware of the finding and take additional precautions to prevent the inadvertent spread to other lakes.

Anglers, boaters and other recreationists are reminded to remove all aquatic vegetation, drain water from all water-related equipment, and remove the drain plug from boats before leaving the boat landing.

Lake residents should take appropriate precautions when purchasing used water-related equipment or allowing their guests to launch watercraft from backyard boat ramps.

According to Minnesota law, docks and boat lifts must be dried for 21 days before placing in another water body.

Zebra mussels pose serious ecological and economic threats to Minnesota's lakes and streams, DNR officials said. Heavy infestations can kill native mussels, impact fish populations and interfere with recreation.

Minnesota currently has more than 175 water bodies designated as infested with zebra mussels. Designation does not mean each body of water is confirmed to be infested, but that zebra mussels have been detected in a lake accessible by boat, and spread is likely between connected waters.

The DNR officials said before leaving a lake, boaters must remove all aquatic vegetation and animals including zebra mussels or other prohibited invasive species, drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.

More information about zebra mussels, how to inspect boats and other water equipment, and a current list of infested waters is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/ais.

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