MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A chain of lakes in Stearns County are now deemed infested waters after the DNR confirmed recent reports of zebra mussels on swimming equipment in one of the lakes.

In a press release Thursday, the DNR said its officers confirmed the presence of the invasive species in Watab Lake, which lies about 10 miles northwest of St. Cloud and is connected to Rossier Lake and Lower Watab Lake. Those three bodies of water, as well as the Watab River downstream of the lake bearing its namesake, will now be listed as infested waters.

“This is the first confirmed case of zebra mussels in a Stearns County lake,” said Christine Jurek, a DNR invasive species specialist. “[A]nd it underscores the need for continued diligence in complying with the state’s invasive species laws.”

An area resident had reported finding zebra mussels on a swimming raft ladder last week, the press release said. When DNR officers searched the lake, they found mussels on the ladder and other recreational equipment.

While the lakes might be designated as infested, it doesn’t mean  zebra mussels are currently in the all three lakes. The designation does mean, however, that the spread of zebra mussels is likely as the lakes are connected and accessible by boat.

This fall, DNR staff will be working with residents in the area of the affected lakes to document the spread of the mussels in the waters, the department said.

If you find zebra mussels or other invasive species, keep a specimen or take a picture, the DNR says. Then report the finding to the nearest DNR invasive species specialist.


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