SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced it had confirmed zebra mussel larvae in Rainy Lake, near International Falls outside of Voyageurs National Park. While the DNR didn’t find zebra mussels, four of five samples taken this July contained zebra mussel larvae, suggesting a reproducing zebra mussel population in the lake.
Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL – International Falls) urged boaters to take all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species across Minnesota’s lakes.
“Rainy Lake is a natural treasure with some of the best fishing in the entire state. I’m deeply concerned that zebra mussel larvae were found in the lake, which highlights the importance of everyone washing their boat every time they take it out of the lake, draining the water, and dumping bait buckets,” Rep. Ecklund said. “These are just a few small steps that can prevent the spread of harmful species. We all have a responsibility to protect our lakes and rivers so fish populations can continue to thrive, and we can enjoy fishing with our friends and families for generations to come.”
Regardless of whether a lake has any invasive species, 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, and
• Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
To remove or kill any species a boater is unable to see, before moving to another waterbody they should:
• 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 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. In July 2020, the DNR received a report of a single adult zebra mussel in Rainy Lake, but didn’t find any others in the lake, nor any larvae in water samples.
More information including rules, tips, and prevention efforts is available from the Minnesota DNR’s website.