Zebra Mussels Target Of New DNR Action

Hot Water Decontamination Unit Utilized To Wipe Out Invasive Species

MADISON, Wis. — While many Wisconsinites have spent recent weekends enjoying area lakes, the state Department of Natural Resources was also busy on the water.
DNR officials were utilizing a new piece of equipment being implemented to stop the spread of zebra mussels. Just a simple, but thorough wash could be the key to keeping the invasive zebra mussel from spreading further into Wisconsin waters, they said.

“The larger challenge here is to keep them out of other lakes,” said DNR deputy warden Greg Stacey.

And what makes the zebra mussel so nasty?

“What they do is they eat the plankton, the same food that a new batch of walleye would want to eat. They clean the lake up so the predator fish can see the small fish and actually destroy the new hatch,” said Stacey.

Local angler Domenick Donato has caught fish all over the country. He said the zebra mussels impact on the underwater ecosystem is significant.

“Just to see the change in how we fished in the past when I was a kid, to now it’s completely different,” said Donato. “I mean, definitely, they’re going deep, and they’re staying deep.”

“My common sense would think if you don’t have a really deep lake that can handle where the fish can migrate to get protection, then it can make a huge impact,” continued Donato about the spread of zebra mussels.

In Wisconsin, zebra mussels aren’t currently a major source of trouble. The DNR said less than 2 percent of Wisconsin’s lakes are now affected.

The problem is those zebra mussels can grow exponentially.

And that’s why the DNR is breaking in a new piece of equipment, a hot water decontamination unit.

“It’s a hot water, we don’t use any chemicals,” said Stacey. “And I think that’s going to be an important factor for many, many people throughout the state.”

DNR officials said the training will eventually trickle into local communities.

“And the really good thing is we can provide a service to the counties, to the municipalities, and to the lake associations,” said Stacey. “As they purchase these machines, we’ll help train those people.”

All to keep those zebra mussels at bay.

The hot water decontamination unit is the first mobile decontamination unit in Wisconsin.

According to the DNR, zebra mussels don’t just hurt the natural ecosystem of a lake. The species can also affect property values of lakeshore homes and interfere with the tourism industry.

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