Meet Minnesota’s new zebra mussel inspectors: dogs

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Zebra mussels often elude human inspectors that search boats being hauled into and out of Minnesota lakes. This year, they might have a harder time escaping the state’s new inspectors: three dogs specially trained to sniff out the tiny invasive species.

On Tuesday, labs Brady and Digger successfully found zebra mussels hidden inside a boat trailer’s taillight during a demonstration with their handlers, conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

More than 100 Minnesota lakes, rivers and wetlands are already infested with zebra mussels, which clog water intake pipes, cut swimmers’ feet and disrupt the natural ecosystem.

The DNR plans to use three zebra mussel-detection dogs this spring and summer in addition to between 126 and 146 human inspectors to check boats.

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