The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reporting that zebra mussels have been confirmed in Itasca County and encourages boaters to be diligent in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Zebra mussels were confirmed in Ball Club Lake, located entirely within the Leech Lake Reservation in Itasca County.

Following a report from Itasca County, a DNR invasive species specialist and county staff found large populations of adult zebra mussels in several locations across the lake.

The DNR is in contact with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Although there are fairly consistent reminders each year for boaters to be diligent to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, this is the perfect opportunity for another reminder of the crucial steps:

  • 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.

Because some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access, the DNR recommends that boaters take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another body of water:

  • 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.

Zebra mussels are a nuisance as they 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.

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I know when I go boating, in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, there are usually stations readily available to spray down boats before and after they are launched.  I utilize those every time, but I have noticed some boats pull right out of the water and then down the road they go.

Once would hope they are all going back to their house or cabins for several days before hitting the water again, but it's best to be safe and take a little extra time to clean your boat.

Follow the link below to access complete aquatic invasive species information, including laws and what you should do if you discover them.