Zebra mussel research project coming to Pelican Lake

March 19, 2021

BREEZY POINT — The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, the United States Geological Survey and their partners are hosting a virtual meeting 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, to provide information to Pelican Lake community members about the upcoming zebra mussel suppression project this summer.

During the first half of the meeting, researchers will provide an overview of the upcoming project and the work that has led up to this point. The second half of the hour will be open to questions from the public.

Anyone who lives on, near or uses Pelican Lake is welcome to attend the open house. To attend the meeting, community members are encouraged to register via Eventbrite.

In 2016, Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, the United States Geological Survey and their partners initiated a research project studying the effectiveness and impacts of using copper as a suppression treatment method for zebra mussel infestations.

After multiple years of in-lab and small-scale testing, researchers conducted a large-scale, in-lake application of a liquid copper formulation (EarthTec QZ) at a low dose to St. Alban’s Bay in Lake Minnetonka in the summer of 2019. When the research team returned to the bay one year after treatment (summer 2020), there was only a very small number of juvenile zebra mussels present (compared to the study’s control site) and no live adult zebra mussels. Impacts to native species were closely monitored and noted. The team will survey invasive and native populations in St. Alban’s Bay again in summer 2021.

In 2021, most of the research team’s work will be at Pelican Lake in Crow Wing County. Researchers will be using a lakeside laboratory to collect and test water samples to refine the lowest possible dose of copper needed in zebra mussel treatments while also testing the effects on native species in the lake. Researchers will use the results to predict a liquid copper treatment for Pelican Lake — like the one applied on Lake Minnetonka in 2019 — but customized specifically for Pelican. The goal of the proposed treatment will be to dial in the lowest dose of copper needed to effectively suppress zebra mussels and have minimal impact to native species. In 2023, the researchers will monitor results and an expanded list of native species to make sure there are no unexpected impacts from the treatments.

At the end of 2023, researchers hope to have firm, scientifically supported data for fighting zebra mussels with copper. After the study is completed, local/state governments, lakeshore associations, and resource managers will be responsible for implementing the science and choosing whether to pursue treatments.

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. You can learn more about this project on the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center website.