Zebra mussels found in Lake Hiawatha

Zebra mussels have been found in Lake Hiawatha, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board says.

The invasive species population will grow until fully established in the lake, likely by 2015, said environmental management director Debra Pilger. She says Hiawatha was contaminated through Minnehaha Creek, which connects to Lake Minnetonka. That lake was declared infested in 2010.

"There's no way that we're going to be able to get rid of zebra mussels in Lake Hiawatha because they're just going to keep coming right down the creek," Pilger said.

"It was inevitable that they were going to come."

Lake Hiawatha's contamination puts nearby Lake Nokomis at heightened risk for infestation, because boaters often transfer crafts between the two bodies of water. Pilger said people need to drain, clean, and dry their boats before transferring them.

Even though Lake Hiawatha isn't the ideal growth environment for the invasive species, zebra mussels can grow rapidly, disrupting the food chain and changing the local ecosystem.

"But they will survive there and they're establish themselves. And people will see them -- they'll see 'em on the beaches, they'll see 'em attached to hard surfaces like buoys or walls or docks," Pilger said.

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