June 6, 2010

Efforts underway to tighten ANS control

Efforts underway to tighten ANS control

By Patricia Stockdill

They’re out there and they’re inching ever closer.
“They” are zebra mussels and they’re in Pelican Lake, a Minnesota lake 50 miles east of Fargo.
The problem isn’t that Minnesota anglers fish North Dakota waters and vice-versa, which alone can spread zebra mussels.
The problem is Pelican Lake’s outflow is the Pelican River, which flows into the Ottertail River. The Ottertail River meets the Bois de Sioux River at Breckenridge, Minn., becoming the Red River.
The Red River flows north to Lake Winnipeg and the Hudson Bay drainage. All are popular fishing destinations for in-state and out-of-state anglers.
Zebra mussels could easily hitch a ride west – Devils Lake, Lake Sakakawea or the Missouri River
No one knows when or if they will enter North Dakota’s waterways.
However, one thing is certain – if North Dakota’s waters become infested with invasive, non-native aquatic nuisance species (ANS), it means lost dollars and lost natural resources, potentially influencing North Dakota’s electric power generation and water supplies. ANS is more than a problem for anglers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts.
It means large dollars and extensive manpower trying to prevent the spread of a preventable problem.
And none would cure the problem or make it go away.
Zebra mussels attach themselves to hard surfaces, such as rocks.
Or boats
Or irrigation, power plant, and municipal and rural water intake systems.
They’re one example of an aquatic nuisance species but ANS covers an array of bad things. It could be zebra mussels.
It could be a plant – Eurasian water milfoil, which is in parts of the Sheyenne River and Dead Colt Creek Reservoir, or curly-leaf pondweed already in the Missouri River System.
It could be a disease – VHS, viral hemorrhagic septicemia.
The news that zebra mussels are in Minnesota’s Pelican Lake hit home for Jamestown angler Ken Cumber, who fishes the lake.
An ardent recreational and tournament angler, Cumber is a longstanding advocate of taking necessary precautions to stop the spread of ANS. He fishes tournaments that require boat cleaning and inspections, including the 2009 Master’s Walleye Circuit tournament in Devils Lake.
Cumber encourages other tournaments to offer cleaning sites for tournament anglers and the public, like sites in Devils Lake.
 


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