The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Monday said zebra mussels have been confirmed in Big Pine Lake, just northwest of Mille Lacs Lake in Aitkin County, and in the Blandin Reservoir along the Mississippi River in Grand Rapids.

A lake property owner on Big Pine Lake contacted the DNR after finding four adult zebra mussels on docks and boat lifts being removed from the lake for the season. The DNR confirmed zebra mussels at that location and about a half-mile west of the original location. No zebra mussels were found during searches of the nearest public access and near an island on the lake.

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Itasca County invasive species staff contacted the DNR after finding zebra mussels on settlement samplers that were installed this spring near the public access on the east side of Blandin Reservoir. DNR invasive species staff confirmed zebra mussels on old saw logs and other logging relics throughout the reservoir. The Mississippi River splits near the reservoir, and a tributary connects several nearby lakes.

Because of the connection, Lake Pokegama, Jay Gould Lake, Little Jay Gould Lake, and the Mississippi River from Lake Winnibigoshish to Mississippi Lake will also be added to the infested waters list.

Considering zebra mussels have already exploded in number in Lake Winnibigoshish upstream on the Mississippi River system the finding downstream in Grand rapids wasn't unexpected.,

No zebra mussels were found in recent surveys of Lake Pokegama and Jay Gould Lake, but they will be added because they are closely connected to waters with confirmed zebra mussel populations.