Efforts to contain zebra mussels appear to be working across the county.
Zebra mussels were first discovered in Lake Superior in 1988 and in 2016 the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources first confirmed zebra mussels in Big McKenzie Lake in eastern Burnett County. At the time County Conservationist Dave Ferris said it was bad news because Big McKenzie is a drainage lake.
Tom Boisvert recently updated the natural resources committee on zebra mussels throughout Burnett County.
Boisvert is the AIS Coordinator for Burnett County Conservation Division of Land Services. He spoke to the Natural Resources meeting and said they’re numbers have increased, they have begun attaching to plants and reproducing at a high rate.
“They’ll attach to pretty much anything,” Boisvert said. He added that during a plant summary over the summer they have found Zebra Mussels are not just attaching to solid, hard surfaces but also plants.
Boisvert said the same plant survey which was taken on the McKenzie Lake chain along with seven other lakes across the county.
He explained zebra mussels are present on Lower McKenzie, however not near as many as on Big McKenzie.
The committee then discussed outlets for certain lakes. Committee members said if Lower Mckenzie Lake gets inundated with zebra mussels they could make their way to the Namekagon River and then into the St. Croix River.
“Then all the way to New Orleans,” Committee chair Ed Peterson said. That is why the committee is worried about the potential of the invasive species spreading throughout the region.
According to Boisvert, the water between the Namekagon and Lower McKenzie is very “murky” this time of year and that is making it tough for any species to navigate those waters.
The County Conservation department is continuing to monitor the situation across the county with decontamination sites set up at a number of prominent boat landings throughout Burnett County.