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MN Department of Natural Resources -- News Releases
Updated: 8 hours 28 min ago

Flowering rush confirmed in Grants Lake in Douglas County

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 1:45pm

First time invasive aquatic plant has been confirmed in county

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed small patches of flowering rush, an invasive aquatic plant, in Grants Lake in Douglas County. 

The DNR has begun removing the plants by hand. Hand removal can be successful in small populations like this one.  DNR staff will monitor the site for any regrowth and take appropriate further control measures if required.

Flowering rush is a weed-like plant with pink flowers that can overtake habitat, crowd out native species and make it difficult for boats to access open water. It is a perennial that grows one to four feet high along shores in shallow, slow-moving water.

In deeper water, it can grow in a submerged form that does not produce flowers. It flowers in early summer through mid-fall. Flowering rush can be difficult to identify when not in flower, as it closely resembles many beneficial native shoreland plants such as the common bulrush.

People can spread flowering rush primarily by moving water-related equipment and illegally releasing water garden plants into public waters. It reproduces by vegetative spread of small onion-like buds called bulbils, which can be hidden in mud and debris and can stick to boots, waders and other fishing and hunting gear.

Flowering rush is a prohibited invasive species in Minnesota, which means it is unlawful (a misdemeanor) to possess, import, purchase, transport or introduce this species except under a permit for disposal, control, research or education.

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.

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

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

Zebra mussels confirmed in Lake Alexander in Morrison County

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 12:14pm

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed zebra mussels in Lake Alexander in Morrison County. 

DNR divers found two adult zebra mussels, about one-half inch in length, near Soldiers Island on the west side of the lake, and two more zebra mussels of the same size at the east boat access. Reports of zebra mussels in 2018 in another part of the lake could not be substantiated, despite numerous searches in 2018 and 2019.

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, 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 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.

West Nile virus impacting Minnesota loon population

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 11:51am

A recent uptick in reports of dead loons and test results indicate an impact from West Nile virus (WNV), according to nongame wildlife staff at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota confirmed WNV as the cause of death in two of three dead loons from northeastern Minnesota earlier this month. Wildlife staff are receiving a small but noticeable increase in calls from people finding dead loons in northeastern Minnesota this summer.

WNV was first confirmed in Minnesota in 2002 and was documented as a cause of loon mortality in Minnesota as early as 2005. It is not uncommon for people, animals and birds to be exposed to WNV through mosquito bites. Most people and animals successfully fight off the virus and develop antibodies against future infection. Some birds, like loons, crows and other corvids, are especially susceptible to the infection. Researchers are attempting to discover the rates of infection among ruffed grouse.

Loons can die from a variety of illnesses and injuries and individual bird deaths are a normal occurrence and not cause for alarm.

“Minnesotans love our loons and it’s concerning for people to find them dead. When we start seeing multiple birds dying on a single lake, we want to know about it so we can start tracking the information and determine when further testing is warranted,” said nongame wildlife specialist Gaea Crozier. “While there isn’t a way to treat the West Nile virus infection, knowing the cause can help us rule out other, preventable causes of mortality.”

Lake homeowners and other lake users who observe two or more dead loons on a single lake with no obvious injury or cause of death are asked to email the nearest DNR nongame wildlife staff for tracking:

Individual bird carcasses can be disposed of by burial or in the trash. There is no evidence people can contract WNV from infected birds, but gloves or a plastic bag are recommended when handling any dead animal. If reporting numbers reach a threshold that indicates a need for further testing, more information and handling protocols will follow.

The Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program is funded almost entirely through grants and donations. More information about the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program and the Loon Monitoring Program can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/nongame.