News release: Zebra mussels confirmed in Smith Lake in Douglas County, West Rabbit Lake in Crow Wing County

October 20, 2022

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed reports of zebra mussels in Smith Lake, near Nelson in Douglas County, and in West Rabbit Lake, near Cuyuna in Crow Wing County.

Douglas County staff contacted the DNR after receiving a zebra mussel that was found on a dock being removed from Smith Lake for the season. A DNR invasive species specialist found a total of 10 zebra mussels during a follow-up search in four areas of Smith Lake.

Property owners on West Rabbit Lake contacted their lake association and posted information on social media about finding zebra mussels in the lake. A DNR invasive species specialist searched several areas of the lake and found at least one zebra mussel at each location. East Rabbit Lake, Clinker Lake and Turner Lake will also be listed for zebra mussels because they are connected to West Rabbit Lake.

“Lake property owners and lake service provider businesses can play an important role in detecting invasive species by carefully examining boats, docks and lifts when they are being removed from the water at the end of the season,” DNR Invasive Species Unit Supervisor Heidi Wolf said.

Lake property owners should carefully look for invasive species on the posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats, pontoons and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period.

Whether or not a lake has any invasive species, Minnesota law requires people to:

  • Clean watercraft, trailers and equipment to remove aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water and leave drain plugs out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
  • Never release bait, plants or aquarium pets into Minnesota waters.
  • Dry docks, lifts and rafts for 21 days before moving them from one waterbody to another.

These additional steps reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species:

  • Decontaminate watercraft and equipment – find free stations on the courtesy decontamination page of the DNR website.
  • Spray with high-pressure water or rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry watercraft and equipment for at least five days before using in another waterbody.

People should contact a Minnesota DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species.

More information is available on the aquatic invasive species page of the DNR website.