- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) - Young zebra mussels have been detected in the Red River near Wahpeton after a two-year absence, and North Dakota residents are urged to be vigilant against the invasive species.

Zebra mussel larvae were present in the same area in 2010 and 2011, but not in 2012 or 2013.

“Since we have found zebra mussel young in this area before, and because there are established adult populations upstream in the Otter Tail River in Minnesota, finding a few young this year really didn’t come as a surprise,” said Fred Ryckman, aquatic nuisance species coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

However, recreationists and officials should check for zebra mussels when storing equipment prior to ice-up, Ryckman said. The mussels can be transported by boats from one body of water to another. They compete with native species, clog water intakes and can even sink docks and buoys with their weight.

“They attach to these types of hard surfaces,” Ryckman said.

The Red River site is the only one in the state where young zebra mussels have been found. Adult mussels have not been discovered in North Dakota despite reports of new and growing infestations in Minnesota, but some officials believe it will be only a matter of time.

Any state residents who find zebra mussels are asked to immediately report the finding to Game and Fish.

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