Zebra mussels confirmed in Lake Minnie-Belle in Meeker County

October 5, 2020

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed reports of zebra mussels in Lake Minnie-Belle, near Litchfield in Meeker County.

A DNR-trained watercraft inspector reported finding a zebra mussel on a settlement sampler deployed on a private dock on the southeast side of Lake Minnie-Belle. Settlement samplers are solid surfaces placed in the water that people can regularly check for attached zebra mussels. The inspector subsequently found a second zebra mussel on the wheel of a dock, a third on a settlement sampler on the northeast side of the lake, and a fourth attached to a boat lift. 

“Given that zebra mussels have been found at two sites in different areas of the lake, it is likely that there is an established zebra mussel population in Lake Minnie-Belle,” said DNR aquatic invasive species specialist Eric Katzenmeyer.

The DNR reminds lake property owners to carefully check boats and trailers, docks and boat lifts, and all other water-related equipment for invasive species when removing equipment for seasonal storage. While it’s always important to look for invasive species, it is especially beneficial at this time of year. Several new zebra mussel confirmations in recent years were initially reported by people removing docks, boats and boat lifts.

Minnesota law requires that docks and lifts remain out of the water for at least 21 days after removal from a waterbody before they can be placed into another body of water. In addition, anyone who transports a dock or lift from a shoreline property to another location for storage or repair may need a permit, to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Whether or not a lake is listed for 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.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody:     

  • 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.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species that has not already been confirmed in a lake.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.