While appearing on Sheridan Media’s Public Pulse, Wyoming Game and Fish Public Information Specialist Christina Schimdt informed listeners that their moss balls may be worth a large sum of money.
The invasive mussel species was discovered for the first time in Wyoming in March on moss balls, a commercial aquarium plant sold in pet stores.
Since that time, the Game and Fish have made efforts to gather and dispose of the moss balls as well as posting proper disposal instructions for aquarium owners on their website.
Now 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.
“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,” Game and Fish Chief of Fisheries Alan Osterland said.
All aquarium moss balls are eligible to be submitted to the program. To return a moss ball, net it out of your aquarium and put it in a closed, plastic bag or container. Moss balls can be dropped off to one of the 10 take-back locations across Wyoming.
In the Sheridan area, moss balls can be taken to the Game and Fish Sheridan Regional Office located at 700 Valley View Dr.
In Johnson County, They can be taken to Johnson County Emergency Management located at 26 N. DeSmet.
Anyone who returns a moss ball can scan a QR code at the drop-off site and will be entered into a raffle to win the $1,200. According to Schimdt, each moss ball turned into the department grants the individual another entry in the raffle. The more moss balls turned in, the better the chance to win. The raffle closes May 15.
Game and Fish Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Josh Leonard is asking residents to not purchase any moss balls and recommends aquarists dispose of any aquarium water that came in contact with a moss ball by boiling and then pouring outside away from any natural waters or on a house plant after cooling. Do not pour down drains. Full directions are available on the Game and Fish website. Moss balls remain under a quarantine order from the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.