Southwest Minneapolis boaters and sailors could be on the way to getting a reprieve from rules that keep their boats out of the water without a DNR inspector present, thanks to a new "natural" poison called Zequanox that targets zebra mussels.
After darkly warning of a possible invasive species "emergency" earlier this summer, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted to stop anyone from putting a boat into Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, and other local water bodies unless a specially-trained inspector went over the craft with a fine-toothed comb, looking for invasive species.
The measure generated a backlash among local boaters, who felt the new rules were both excessive and unfair as canoes and kayaks were excluded.
While the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources tracks numerous invasive species as small as viruses and as large as Asian carp, zebra mussels are one of the biggest threats to local waters, with the potential to disrupt a lake's food chain and natural habitat. The mussels also encourage the growth of Eurasian milfoil, which already chokes local lakes.
Now, the DNR is testing Zequanox against zebra mussels on the shores of Douglas County's Lake Carlos. Zequinox is based on a toxin produced by the Pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria, and has no detrimental environmental impacts, according to the manufacturer.
The tests will help determine if Zequanox can be used to control the invasive mussels in open waters like Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun.