Moss balls

Owners of moss balls could receive $1,200 during a month long take-back program. (Game and Fish photo)

CHEYENNE – Aquarium owners, your moss ball could be worth $1,200. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department, in collaboration with Wyoming Trout Unlimited and other sponsors, is launching a month-long moss ball take-back program to help stop the potential spread of zebra mussels. The invasive mussel species was discovered for the first time in Wyoming in March on moss balls, an aquarium plant sold in pet stores.

“Zebra mussels are a serious threat to Wyoming’s waters, outdoor recreation, municipalities, agriculture, state infrastructure and tourism. That’s why we are going the extra mile to encourage people to dispose of their moss balls that could have zebra mussels,” said Alan Osterland, G&F chief of fisheries.

All aquarium moss balls are eligible for the program. To return a moss ball, net it out of the aquarium and put it in a closed plastic bag or container. Moss balls can be dropped off at one of the 10 take-back locations across Wyoming, including the Cody Regional Office, 2820 WYO 120.

Anyone who returns a moss ball can scan a QR code at the drop-off site to enter into a raffle to win $1,200. The raffle closes May 15.

“Every moss ball returned helps prevent the potential spread of zebra mussels,” said Josh Leonard, G&F aquatic invasive species coordinator. “Just because you don’t see a mussel doesn’t mean its tiny offspring are not there. That’s why disposing of all moss balls is vital, as well as the water they’ve been in.”

Leonard recommends aquarists dispose of any aquarium water that came in contact with a moss ball by boiling it and then pouring it outside away from any natural waters or on a house plant after cooling. Do not pour it down drains. Full directions are available on the G&F website. Moss balls remain under a quarantine order from the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

“Please do not buy more moss balls,” Leonard said. “Game and Fish is still working to contain the threat of zebra mussels in Wyoming, and a major key to protecting our state is the public’s help.”

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