Public asked to report zebra mussels and other invasive species to prevent the spread

SPOONER, Wis. – (RealEstateRama) — Lakeshore property owners and others enjoying the remaining late fall days on the water are asked to be on the lookout for zebra mussels, an aquatic invasive species recently verified in Big McKenzie Lake in Burnett and Washburn Counties.

A lakeshore property owner noticed the mussels attached to his pier as he removed it in October. He took the specimens to DNR who verified they were zebra mussels. DNR staff found a handful of additional zebra mussels at two separate locations – a water intake and a boat lift – during follow-up monitoring.

The discovery is the first inland zebra mussel population verified in the 12 county area of northwest Wisconsin. DNR and county partners will host an informational meeting on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station, W6646 WI-70, Spooner, Wis. 54801 to discuss the find.

Pamela Toshner, DNR lake biologist, said the Big McKenzie zebra mussel discovery reinforces the need for boaters to take action to stop aquatic invasive species.

“We are fortunate in northwest Wisconsin to have lakes that are mostly free from aquatic invasive species, so this finding is of concern,” Toshner said. “All boaters have the ability to stop the spread of invasive species by removing plants and draining water before leaving the boat landing and anyone who enjoys area lakes can help by keeping an eye out for invasives.”

To help communities respond to this aquatic invasive species threat, DNR has already committed a $20,000 early detection and response grant to the McKenzie Lakes Association. Clean Boats, Clean Waters grants are also available to ramp up watercraft inspection efforts to contain the zebra mussels and prevent the spread to other area lakes. DNR encourages citizens to become engaged in the Citizen Lake Monitoring Network, which provides access to training from lake experts from across the state.

Zebra mussels are an invasive species that can displace native species, disrupt ecosystems and hamper recreation. Zebra mussels are fingernail-sized bottom-dwellers native to Europe and Asia. A ballast water exchange of an ocean-going ship most likely introduced zebra mussels to the Great Lakes from Europe in the mid-1980s. Fortunately in Wisconsin, fewer than 5 percent of lakes deemed suitable for colonization actually have zebra mussels.

DNR is encouraging lakeshore property owners, contractors, anglers and hunters to keep an eye out for the invaders, which resemble small clams with a yellowish or brownish D-shaped shell and alternating dark- and light-colored stripes. Most are under an inch and they frequently grow in clusters attached to pier posts, boat lifts, rocks and other hard surfaces.

People who find zebra mussels or other invasive species should:

  • Check the DNR website to see if the invasive species has not been previously found in that body ofwater;
  • Notethe exact location where the organism was found;
  • Takea digital photo in the setting where the species was found, then collectup to five specimens of various sizes and put in a jar with water; put thejar on ice and refrigerate it; and
  • Contactlocal DNR or County Land & Water Conservation Department AISContacts and deliver the specimens.

As a reminder, to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species, Wisconsin law requires all boaters to:

  • Inspect boats, trailers and equipment including anchors and other places that accumulate sediment;
  • Remove all attached aquatic plants, animals and mud;
  • Drain all water from boats, vehicles and equipment; and
  • Never move plants or live fish away from a water body.

To learn more about zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species, search “AIS” on dnr.wi.gov.

Contact(s): Pamela Toshner, DNR lake biologist, 715-635-4073, Pamela.Toshner (at) wisconsin (dot) gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno (at) wisconsin (dot) gov

Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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