New invasive species found in Minnesota lakes

A new invasive species called Starry Stonewort was found in both Meeker and Stearns Counties’ lakes not long ago.

It is not clear how it has found its way to the lakes, and that’s it’s incredibly difficult to get rid of, which is a problem as Stonewort is known to be destructive to native plant and animal species.

Invasive Species Unit Supervisor at Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Heidy Wolf, says out of many species, only a couple of them are regulated and prohibited.

Speaking of the genesis of these species, she adds they are most often assumed to come from ballast water, but that is not always the case. As far as Starry Stonewort goes, it originated from the water body of another state.

Ballast water is the water transported from one place to another. That happens when ships, boats and recreational facilities travel from one area to another for recreation or to export or import goods. When ships load off their cargo, they take on a certain amount of water to balance their weight and gain stability. When they arrive back home, that water is drained into the body of water, resulting in the introduction of new entities.

The danger of Starry Stonewort to the ecology of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers is largely due to the absence of predators in Minnesota’s water habitats. So, while it might not be a threat in its native habitat, it is here in Minnesota.

Even though science has advanced well enough to produce such predator species, DNR would not utilize them. That is because biologically controlling the population of a species is very challenging and time consuming in the first place.

Importing species from other parts of the world is another solution, which seems to have helped eliminate some unwanted elements in our bodies of water. One point is the importation of Purple Loosestrife after many years of studies to eat out some other invasive species.

Wolf notes that currently only 5 percent of Minnesota’s bodies of water are infested with invasive species, because of the existence of laws and the low-violation rate.

To continue this trend, those using water crafts are encouraged to follow the laws. They are required to clean their equipment by rinsing them at high pressure with hot water and drying them. High pressure is recommended as it detaches any microscopic species like zebra mussel veligers that are not seen with naked eyes.

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