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Seminar tells Whitefish area residents what to be alert for this fall

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The Whitefish Area Property Owners Association (WAPOA) hosted an aquatic invasive species (AIS) seminar Sept. 25 at the Ideal Town Hall to provide a recap of the discovery and identification of invasive zebra mussels in the Whitefish Chain, as well as the July 22-25 search for zebra mussel velligers (microscopic young) in lakes where adult zebra mussels were not found.

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The seminar also gave participants advice for removal of lake equipment this fall. Residents were advised to make sure that lake service providers — those who are paid to remove boats, docks and boat lifts from lakes — are certified in their trade. WAPOA has a list of certified lake service providers.

Those lake service providers are required by law to take classes that include education on AIS and acquire certification. It is illegal to provide lake services for pay otherwise.

Residents were told that they should be on the lookout for adult zebra mussels on equipment being removed from lakes. If residents find zebra mussels on docks, pump filters, boat lifts or other equipment they should photograph them and save a sample. They should then contact WAPOA or the DNR to report it, and have the sample collected and documented by a professional.

Residents may also deliver samples to a local DNR office, but should not transport samples without first speaking to a DNR representative over the phone, as it is illegal to transport live AIS and there may be someone available to pick up the samples. WAPOA is interested in documenting the places where these zebra mussels are found.

Residents were also instructed to store all boats and machines out of the water, as velligers are capable of getting into the working parts of motors, which could cause the machines to fail. Use of boat lifts is recommended.

If boats or equipment are being moved from one place to another, residents were reminded to allow all water to drain and to allow the items to dry completely, preferably for a minimum of five days. Velligers do not survive long on dry surfaces. Residents were also reminded that it is not only boats that transport AIS but also docks and boat lifts, so private lakeshore owners should be as vigilant as traveling boaters.

Residents were also told that zebra mussels and velligers do not swim, and are not transported by animals, only human beings. Zebra mussel infestations do appear to improve water quality through filter feeding, but they also outcompete small fish for food, which can drastically reduce game fish numbers.

They have sharp shells which can cut people’s feet, and some lakes with large infestations have been found to have large numbers of dead diving birds, like ducks and loons, due to botulism from the zebra mussel feces. The disadvantages of zebra mussel infestation far outweigh the benefits.

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