Northwest Wildlife Agencies Warn Of Newly Found Invasive Zebra Mussels
Washington state wildlife officials are working with pet store chains to stop the spread of aquarium products found to contain zebra mussels.
A zebra mussel is a tiny shellfish native to the Black and Caspian Seas in Ukraine. But they’re now found all over the world, except in the Northwest.
During a media briefing Friday, Washington state biologist Allen Pleus said they pose a huge potential economic danger to this region.
“The main thing is that they can grow into three-dimensional colonies that smother native species and they also can clog water supply intakes and hydropower facilities. So if this species became established in Washington waters, it would quickly cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year in mitigation costs and higher electricity and food prices,” Pleus said.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife department officials say they learned Tuesday that mussels were found in a Seattle-area Petco store. They were embedded in moss balls that are sold for aquariums. The little pests were also reported in pet stores in Oregon and Idaho.
Captain Eric Anderson from the agency’s policing staff says that kicked off what is now a nationwide effort to find where the moss balls were sold and then have them removed from store shelves. He’s also making a plea to aquarium owners to be careful when they clean their tanks, to make sure they’re not inadvertently releasing mussels or any other non-native nuisance into the environment.
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