ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says an invasive pest has been confirmed in Minnesota lakes for the first time.

The agency said Friday that starry stonewort has been confirmed in Lake Koronis and Mud Lake, which is connected to Koronis, in Stearns and Meeker counties.

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Property owners on Lake Koronis contacted the DNR about abundant aquatic vegetation. Agency staff investigated and found starry stonewort in 53 acres of the lake.

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Starry stonewort was first discovered in the U.S. in the St. Lawrence River in 1978 and has spread to lakes in the northeastern United States. The grass-like algae also was confirmed in Wisconsin in 2014 and has been reported in Michigan lakes for more than a decade.

The invasive plant can produce dense mats and choke out native plants.

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