Zebra mussels continue to wreak havoc in Manitoba

The invasive aquatic species, zebra mussels, have made their way into several bodies of water across Manitoba, including Lake Winnipeg – the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world. Now, zebra mussels have been detected in one of Manitoba’s biggest tourist spots, Clear Lake.

“It’s upsetting. A lot of people have spent a lot of time and energy to try and prevent this from happening,” said Dameon Wall, external relations manager at Riding Mountain National Park.

In early November, samples collected from Clear Lake during the summer show the presence of live zebra mussels at Boat Cove throughout the season. Dameon Wall says it’s frustrating and work is being done to prevent further harm.

“There is no known way to eradicate zebra mussels from water bodies, certainly not the size of Clear Lake, especially once they become established there, but we will consider what options lay before and what the responsible thing to do, what is fiscally responsible, what is environmentally responsible and that will guide our decision making,” said Wall.

The boat launch area is now closed until 2024, as Parks Canada continues to analyze the results. Wall says no decisions have been made as to what next summer looks like for boaters.

Regulations were put in place by Parks Canada this year that required operators not to use their boats in any other body of water. It was also required to have all boats pass inspection to receive a permit for use in the water. Daryl Kines says it’s too soon to say how the zebra mussels were able to get in.

“I was surprised because the park is actually doing a very good job of reducing the risk of being invaded by zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species,” said Daryl Kines, President of Sandy Lake Water Protection Working Group.

Zebra mussels are small, clam-like aquatic species that are native to eastern Europe. They spread quickly through reproduction and invade new areas. Kines says they don’t just impact the bodies of water.

“They’ll decrease the property values. You’ll have less traffic; you will have smaller and fewer fish to pull out of the lake. It’s just a bad thing. You don’t want to have a lake that is invaded, that’s for sure,” said Kines.

“It is not inevitable that we will have zebra mussels in all of our lakes.”

Kines says the best way to protect lakes in Manitoba is to not move your boat from one body of water to another.

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