FROM THE DNR: Zebra mussels found and delay mowing ditches


Stopping the spread of aquatic nuisance species is a serious situation and more and more bodies of water are being affected.  This release about zebra mussels found in Itasca County is troubling because of the river system and chain of lakes that are a part of it.   We’re all responsible to do our part.

Also with the late, wet spring give the ditches a break.  Pheasants and a number of other birds are using the tall grass in ditches as nesting areas.  Give yourself a break from mowing and let those babies grow!

Here are the official releases from the MN DNR. 

Zebra mussels found in Sand Lake, 
Little Sand Lake in northern Itasca County

A citizen report of adult zebra mussels attached to a dock removed from Sand Lake last fall has been confirmed by a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) aquatic invasive species biologist. Preliminary searches of connected waters have resulted in the confirmation of additional zebra mussels in Little Sand Lake.

Sand Lake and Little Sand Lake, in northern Itasca County, are part of Bowstring chain of lakes that eventually flow into the Bigfork River. Additional searches of connected waters are being performed to determine the scope of the infestation.

The initial discovery was reported as the homeowner prepared to install his dock for the season. The dock was stored on shore over the winter and was found to have dead zebra mussels still attached from when it was removed last fall.

“The homeowner took personal responsibility to inspect their equipment before placing it in the water, and did the right thing by reporting the discovery right away,” said Rich Rezanka, DNR aquatic invasive species specialist.

Sand Lake (DNR public waters inventory number 31-0826) and Little Sand Lake (DNR public waters inventory number 31-0853) will be designated as infested waters and signs will be posted at public accesses to alert recreationists.

Connected waters being investigated for infestation include:

  • Bowstring Lake, 31-0813.
  • Rice Lake, 31-0876.
  • Portage Lake, 31-0824.
  • Bird’s Eye Lake, 31-0834.

Recreationists on this chain of lakes should look for infested waters signage at public accesses. Signage will allow recreationists and other resource partners to be aware of the finding and take additional precautions to prevent the inadvertent spread to other lakes. Bait harvest and transport of water for any purpose is prohibited in infested waters.

Anglers, boaters and other recreationists are reminded to remove all aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species, drain water from all water equipment including portable bait containers, and drain bilges and livewells by removing the drain plug before leaving the boat landing.

More information about zebra mussels, how to inspect boats and other water-related equipment, and a current list of designated infested waters is available on the DNR website at


Weather increases importance of delayed roadside mowing

Delayed mowing of roadsides will be more important than normal this year as the cool, wet weather impacts bird nesting, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

More than 40 bird species, including pheasants, use roadsides for nesting from April to August.

“The late spring will likely impact pheasant nesting in one of two ways,” said Nicole Davros, DNR research scientist and pheasant specialist. “Some hens may have delayed nest initiation due to cooler temps and snow cover at the start of the nesting season. Other hens that did start nesting may have abandoned their first attempt due to the weather.”

It takes six weeks for a hen pheasant to lay eggs and hatch chicks, Davros said. If a nest fails due to weather, predators or human disturbance, the hen will attempt to renest until successful in hatching a clutch, although renesting clutches will have fewer eggs. A pheasant hen will only hatch one brood per year and will not renest if she loses her chicks.

The peak hatch for pheasants is typically the third week in June, but this year there will probably be a lot of birds still nesting in July, Davros said. Chicks need to be two to three weeks old to escape mowers or other farm equipment.  By delaying roadside disturbances until
Aug. 1, most nests can hatch successfully.

If landowners are worried about safety, mowing a narrow strip adjacent to their mailbox or driveway shouldn’t affect nesting hens too much, Davros said. Most pheasant hens place their nests either in the ditch bottom or along the back slope, away from the road. At sites where noxious weeds are a problem, Davros recommends spot mowing or spot spraying for treatment.

Roadsides provide more than 500,000 acres of nesting area in the pheasant range of southern and western Minnesota. Roadside habitat influences local wildlife populations, including pheasants, teal, mallards and songbirds, especially in intensively row-cropped regions where there is little other grassland available.

For more information, visit or contact the DNR Information Center at651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.



Leave a Reply