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Federal agency wants to test bacteria to kill invasive mussels

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - In what would be a first for Wisconsin, a federal agency wants to put a biological pesticide into a public lake, to see if it would kill invasive zebra mussels.

The U.S. Geological Survey proposes to apply a bacteria called "Zequanox" in parts of Keyes Lake in Florence County in the far northeast part of the state. If the experiment succeeds, it could lead to a treatment method for controlling the spread of zebra and quagga mussels -- both of which eat up the food that native fish eat.

There's a lot at stake, since zebra mussels are now found in 163 inland lakes and rivers in the Badger State. Quagga mussels have been discovered in the Great Lakes, but not inland in Wisconsin yet.

The state Agriculture Department has found that the bacteria does not pose a harm to Keyes Lake if it's used the way the manufacturer prescribes. The ag department is taking public comments through June 19th.

James Luoma, a research scientist with the Geological Survey, said Keyes Lake was chosen because zebra mussels have been found there -- and  it has healthy population of native mussels.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)