(Bismarck, ND) -- The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Lake Elsie, Richland County, after a local cabin owner reported adult mussels attached to a boat lift over the Labor Day weekend.

Aquatic nuisance species coordinator Ben Holen said subsequent follow-up sampling found zebra mussels at various locations and life stages throughout the lake.

The 390-acre lake is a popular recreation destination located a few miles southwest of Hankinson.

Lake Elsie is now considered a Class I ANS Infested water, joining Twin Lakes, Lake LaMoure, Lake Ashtabula, the lower portion of the Sheyenne River, and the Red River in this designation. 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 lake access sites.

Zebra mussels are just one of the nonnative aquatic species that threaten our waters and native wildlife. After using any body of water, recreationists must follow North Dakota regulations:

  • Remove aquatic vegetation before leaving the water access and do not import into North Dakota.
  • Drain all water before leaving the water access.
  • Remove drain plugs and devices that hold back water and leave open and out during transport.
  • Do not import bait. For Class I ANS Infested waters, bait cannot be transported in water. In all other areas, bait must be transported in a container that holds 5 gallons or less. It is illegal to dump unused bait on shore or into the lake.


In addition to North Dakota regulations, the Game and Fish Department strongly recommends the following:

  • Avoid mooring your watercraft in zebra mussel infested waters.
  • Clean – remove plants, animals and excessive mud prior to leaving a water access.
  • Drain – drain all water prior to leaving a water access.
  • Dry – allow equipment to dry completely or disinfect before using again. This includes boat docks and boat lifts brought from other waters/states. A seven-day dry time is recommended after recreating on a zebra mussel infested water at typical summer temperatures. This includes boat docks and boat lifts brought from other waters/states.


For more information about ANS in North Dakota, options for disinfection, or to report a possible ANS, click here.