Researchers test new method to control zebra mussel population on Lake Minnetonka

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Zebra mussels

A new study continues on Lake Minnetonka in an effort to effectively manage zebra mussel populations.

Researchers from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center are testing the use of a copper-based product to reduce the survival of zebra mussel larvae. By targeting the youngest zebra mussels, researchers hope the overall population can be decreased.

The study, funded by a $30,500 grant from Hennepin County, is the first known field test of its kind in the country.

During the study, very low levels of a federally-approved copper-based product, EarthTec QZ, are being applied in two enclosures in Lake Minnetonka’s West Upper Lake, which has some of the largest concentrations of zebra mussels in the lake. The study area is near the shoreline of Lake Minnetonka Regional Park and applications will occur over the course of three separate weeks between now and the end of July.

The product is species-specific and poses no health risks to humans or other aquatic life. Recreation and enjoyment of the bay will not be impacted during the study.

Since zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Minnetonka seven years ago, they have spread throughout the lake, impacting water quality and recreational safety. For example, they alter the food chain that fish and other aquatic life depend on, they attach to docks, boats and other hard surfaces, and their sharp shells litter beaches and lake bottoms.