What are Zebra Mussels and why are they invasive in Wyoming?

Protecting our waterways is a vital part of Wyoming’s heritage and economy. Zebra Mussels threaten that severely but what are they and why are they considered invasive?

To start, I want to take a quick look at why Zebra Mussels are back in the news in abundance. Marimo moss balls are sold at pet stores and used in aquariums to help keep them clean and can provide other benefits. Recently 21 states found these moss balls to be harboring invasive Zebra Mussels. This prompted immediate action throughout the country because these mussels not only multiply quickly but basically kill off species of fish due to utilizing the food resource and smothering other species. It is such a serious matter that the Wyoming Governor has assembled an emergency panel to try to stop the issue. A quote on KING5 News from Justin Bush, the executive coordinator for the Washington Invasive Species Council, is startling: “This is one of the most alarming things I’ve been involved with in over a decade of working with invasive species,”. Zebra Mussels have devastated many areas, including the Great Lakes where they were first found in 1988.

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Zebra Mussels area a type of mollusk that are thought to have come to America from European ships in the 80’s. According to the USGS.gov there are currently more than two hundred and thirty lakes that have zebra mussels in the United States. The main reason to care about this issue is they destroy natural habitat for natural species but also they play a major role in effecting many power plants and water users, who have to spend millions keeping them from clogging things and causing major issues. It costs over a billion dollars yearly for Wyoming and other states to maintain the spread of these nasty mollusks.

Remember that these moss balls are not the major culprit in transporting invasive Zebra Mussels, it’s US as recreators who frequent water ways. That is why it is crucial to clean your water crafts, clean your wading boots and not taking aquatic plants from one area to another. Always stop at boat checks and let’s do our part, if you happen to have these moss balls though, they are now banned in Wyoming. Freezing, boiling or submerging in bleach or vinegar can properly dispose of moss balls. Share the information with someone you may know who has an aquarium.

~ Charene, The Adventure Queen

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