Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon announced Wednesday that he has convened an emergency response team to remove products that carry zebra mussels, contain them and educate the public after the invasive mussels were found in several pet stores last week.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says the mussels were found in "marimo balls" or "moss balls", a rare form of spherical algae often used in aquariums. This is the first time the mussels have been found in the state.

"This is an urgent and serious matter that potentially affects Wyoming’s water infrastructure, lakes and rivers," Gordon said in a news release.

"This mussel is a vicious aquatic invasive species from South Russia and the Ukraine with the potential to wreak havoc on domestic water supplies and our irrigation infrastructure and ruin some of our best fishing," he added.

Gordon says the Department of Agriculture has signed a quarantine order banning the importation, sale and distribution of Aegagropila linnaei -- the species of filamentous green algae most commonly used in moss balls.

He says the department and Game and Fish are also reviewing existing laws and regulations that may be used to further limit importation and to quarantine any other products that contain zebra mussels.

"Our main goal is to come together quickly to remove the invasives and coordinate our efforts to mitigate any potential impacts," said Gordon.

Gordon says his office and the team are working with the Legislature to determine if emergency funds can be made available for water testing, outreach and other costs.

If you have a moss ball, Game and Fish urges you follow these steps:

  • Remove any pets from the water and tank.
  • Remove the moss ball, other plants and any water from the aquarium and put them into a heat-safe pot. Do not dispose of any water down the drain or toilet.
  • Inspect the moss ball and tank for zebra mussels and if you find any contact your local Game and Fish regional office.
  • Boil the moss balls, plants and any water it’s been in contact with at least five minutes.
  • Dispose of the moss ball and other plants in trash.
  • Pour out the boiled water on a semi-permeable surface. That could be a houseplant or outside — like grass or soil — that is not located near standing water or a storm drain.

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