ALEXANDRIA, Minn. (WCCO) — Scientists are taking steps in the fight against an invasive species already in Minnesota lakes — zebra mussels.

At the moment, zebra mussels have no known enemy, so there’s few ways to stop them from spreading. But a solution – known as Zequanox — is showing promise in helping curb the infestation.

The solution, however, will not likely clean lakes of zebra mussels all together. Instead, it will offer a “spot clean.”

The Department of Natural Resources began testing Zequanox last fall, when it placed thousands of mussels in huge cages in various parts of Alexandria’s Lake Carlos and let them sit for nine months.

Those mature mussels were then taken from the lake and placed in 100-gallon containers injected with Zequanox. The mussels then ingest the Zequanox, which is toxic, thinking it is food, the DNR said.

The DNR plans to put the mussels back in Lake Carlos and remove them again after four weeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the solution when the mussels are in a natural habitat.

Zequanox will not likely be used to kill every zebra mussel in every lake. Rather, it might someday control their spread in specific areas.

The DNR said Zequanox is good in that it offers officials a way to control the invasive species without using a more dangerous product.

Zequanox has already proved effective in controlling the spread of zebra mussels in closed, industrial water systems, like power plant pipes.

Perhaps it will be seen controlling the mussels in open waters, such as Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.


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