A second set of water samples from Clear Lake has tested negative for zebra mussel DNA. These samples were taken between February 2 and 20, 2024. In case you missed it, an earlier report in February also came back with negative results. Samples have been gathered from 34% of the lake, and all have been negative.

zebra mussels found in another lake

A picture of zebra mussels from another lake in Canada

What Does This All Mean?

Negative results are a positive sign, but the size of the lake and the fact that it is winter make it difficult to really determine where we are with the zebra mussels. Zebra mussels are less active in cold water, which helps prevent their spread. With low water activity in the winter, the mussels are less likely to be spread around and transported. Negative results are great news, but if there are zebra mussels in the water, it makes it harder to pinpoint their location.

Parks Canada is quite cautious about the information it releases to the media. They try to pass on the fact-based information they have without making assumptions or giving their personal opinions. I’ve been a part of a few presentations and Zoom calls where they carefully word their answers.

Zebra Mussel Timeline

The oddest part of the zebra mussel issue in Clear Lake is the unexplainable (or without proof) timeline of the zebra mussels. Shortly after zebra mussel DNA was found, out of pure luck, Parks Canada divers found a rope of adult zebra mussels in the lake. However, the age of the zebra mussels doesn’t fit the timeline of when the original DNA was found in the lake. Adult zebra mussels would not have grown to their adult size in the short time frame in which the original DNA was discovered. Two possible answers to the mystery are 1) zebra mussels were in the lake much longer than we initially thought without evidence, or 2) unfortunately, somebody put the zebra mussels in the lake deliberately.

Stopping Zebra Mussels

The scary thing about zebra mussels is that once they start growing in water, there is no stopping them. They breed and spread extremely fast. However, if you can find the colony or area of zebra mussels early enough, they can be killed off using potash. Parks Canada would add potash to an isolated area and, hopefully, eradicate and stop the spread of the zebra mussels. However, as we continue to get negative water samples, we cannot identify any zebra mussel colonies, if any exist.

What Is The Par Going To Do About Boating In 2024?

Since it is only March and they continue to find negative water samples, Parks Canada still needs to determine the boating rules for 2024. One possibility is to only allow boats that do not live in Riding Mountain Park, and another is to not allow any motorized watercraft. There is no perfect solution to what to do with boats and self-propelled watercraft on the lake. Whatever they decide, there will surely be angry people, whether boaters or businesses, who could take a hit due to the lack of tourism.

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