Invasive zebra mussels have been confirmed in Lake LaMoure in southeast North Dakota, the state's Game and Fish Department says.

Aquatic nuisance species coordinator Ben Holen said a well-established population of zebra mussels of various ages were found in the lake, a reservoir located a few miles south of the city of LaMoure.

It is unknown how the small, sharp-shelled mussels were introduced, and there is no known method to completely rid a lake once they become established, the NDGF said in a press release.

Since the lake's water eventually flows into the James River near Oakes, Lake LaMoure, and the James River in Dickey County are now considered Class I ANS Infested waters. They join Lake Ashtabula, lower portion of the Sheyenne River, and the Red River as zebra mussel infested waters.

Emergency rules will go into effect immediately to prohibit the movement of water away from the lake, including water for transferring bait. Notices will be posted at access sites.

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The 430-acre lake, located in LaMoure County, is a popular boating and fishing destination.

Holen reminds water recreationists that everyone plays a role in stemming the spread of mussels to uninfested lakes. “This situation shows how important it is for boaters, anglers, swimmers and skiers to be aware of aquatic nuisance species and to take precautions to prevent their spread,” he said.

Prevention is the best way to avoid spreading ANS. They often travel by hitchhiking with unsuspecting lake-goers. “Always clean, drain and dry boats and other equipment before using another lake,” Holen said. “Also, don’t transfer lake water or live fish to another body of water. This can help stop the spread of not only zebra mussels, but most aquatic nuisance species that may be present.”