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Second biggest lake in Becker County may have zebra mussels

Big Cormorant Lake could soon become the latest area water body to fall victim to the invasion of zebra mussels.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is in the process of investigating a report that zebra mussels were discovered in Becker County's second largest lake.

"We did receive a report of zebra mussels in Big Cormorant last week," said Mark Ranweiler, the assistant aquatic invasive species (AIS) specialist for the DNR in Fergus Falls. "Our staff is currently surveying the lake and once that survey is complete and the data is analyzed, we will release the results."

Ranweiler added that the results would hopefully be available sometime later this week. This report comes less than a month after Lake Eunice became the third lake in Becker County to join the zebra mussels-infested list.

Zebra mussels were also recently confirmed in another area water body, the Red River, as well as two other Minnesota lakes, according to a Friday news release from the DNR.

In June, researchers in North Dakota found many larval zebra mussels, called veligers, at six sites on the Red River. On July 9, Fargo city staff found an adult zebra mussel attached to a water intake on the river, the DNR report states.

The infestation of the Red River did not come as a big surprise, as the Otter Tail River, which flows into the Red, has been infested with zebra mussels since 2012.

Meanwhile, Clearwater Lake in Wright and Stearns counties, along with Ruth Lake in Crow Wing County, became the fourth and fifth lakes in the state to join the zebra mussels-infested list this year.

A lake shore resident on Clearwater Lake contacted the DNR on July 6 to report the discovery of a zebra mussel attached to a native mussel, while a man vacationing on Ruth Lake reported that his 15-year-old son found a zebra mussel on a rock.

DNR biologists investigated these reports, and more zebra mussels were discovered. In Clearwater Lake, eight zebra mussels were discovered in two locations approximately one mile apart, according to the DNR report. Further surveys are underway on Ruth Lake, but one additional zebra mussel was discovered on a tree branch during the initial survey.

Though the recent frequency of these reports is a concern, about 95 percent of Minnesota's 10,000-plus lakes remain uninfested—which is why prevention continues to be a priority for the DNR and other water quality agencies, including the Becker Soil & Water Conservation District, which manages the county's AIS prevention program.

More information about zebra mussels and other aquatic invasives, how to inspect boats and other water-related equipment for the presence of AIS, a current list of infested waters, and how to report an infestation is available on the DNR website

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454