DNR confirms Zebra mussels in Pokegama Lake chain

Zebra mussel seen in Pokegama Lake (PHOTO: Minnesota DNR)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed Monday it found invasive zebra mussels in the Blandin Reservoir along the Mississippi River near Grand Rapids.

That means that several waters connected to the reservoir now enter the infested waters designation. They include:

  • Lake Pokegama
  • Jay Gould Lake
  • Little Jay Gould Lake
  • the Mississippi River from Lake Winnibigoshish to Mississippi Lake

These waters don’t have zebra mussels yet, but will because of their natural connection to the Blandin Reservoir. They include some of the best fishing in Northern Minnesota.

According to the DNR press release:

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes. People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species. More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

The most immediate impact:

To reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species, activities like bait harvest, commercial fishing, and water appropriation are managed differently in infested waters. The DNR has already been in contact with some of the businesses that would be affected by this designation, along with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

And obviously, here’s how we all slow the spread of zebra mussels to other nearby lakes and rivers:

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:
• Clean watercraft and trailers of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
• Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.
• Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody:
• Spray with high-pressure water.
• Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
• Dry for at least five days.

This means big change for Itasca County waters. Unwelcome news.

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