06/25/2014 04:22 EDT | Updated 08/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Saskatchewan boaters urged to prevent zebra mussel stowaways in lakes

REGINA - Boaters in Saskatchewan are being urged to prevent stowaways from entering the province's lakes and waterways this summer.

The Environment Ministry is worried that zebra and quagga mussels could be hitching rides from one province to another by attaching themselves to boats, trailers or other watercraft.

Saskatchewan officials say the recent confirmation of zebra mussels in Lake Winnipeg has only heightened concern.

Conservation officers will inspect boats, especially those from out of province, and there are plans to post more signs at boat launches.

Saskatchewan boaters returning from out of province are being reminded to clean watercraft with high pressure hot water and to drain and dry all equipment.

Zebra and quagga mussels can cause irreversible damage to aquatic ecosystems and clog water intakes.

Manitoba recently declared victory in its first battle with zebra mussels, but cautioned the fight is far from over.

The province sealed off four harbours in mid-May with a silt curtain before injecting liquid potash into the water. The concentration of potash was increased until it suffocated the mussels. Manitoba Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh said the treatment was successful and killed the mussels.

The invasive species, which has been in the Great Lakes for almost two decades and has spread throughout parts of the United States, was discovered for the first time in Manitoba last October.

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