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Fargo man convicted of introducing mussels to Rose Lake

Lake Restoration applied a topical treatment of copper sulfate to Rose Lake Thursday in an effort to stem an early outbreak of zebra mussels. (DNR Photo)

FARGO - A Fargo man was convicted this week of introducing zebra mussels into Rose Lake in Minnesota's Otter Tail County.

George Wynn, 54, pleaded guilty in Otter Tail County District Court on Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of introducing an invasive species.

Wynn was ordered to pay $500 restitution plus $500 in fines and fees.

"The $500 in restitution hardly begins to cover the costs of treating Rose Lake last October," Dick Hecock, Becker County Coalition of Lake Associations president, said in a news release.

Zebra mussels are an invasive water species that attach to hard surfaces and can be transported by boats from lake to lake. Zebra mussels are immune to most predators and can live outside of water for days at a time.

Hecock said the court's settlement with Wynn is an indication of why the Legislature should enact stiffer penalties for violating the aquatic species laws.

The Department of Natural Resources estimates it will cost more than $18,000 to treat Rose Lake. There is no guarantee the treatment will prevent zebra mussels from spreading in Rose Lake or any other lake downstream in the Otter Tail River chain, Hecock said.

"This offender got a slap on the wrist," Hecock wrote. "Minnesota taxpayers got the treatment bill."