Lake Tahoe, CA/NV — Zebra mussels that could significantly damage the ecology of Lake Tahoe have been discovered in moss ball products for sale online and in pet stores across the U.S. and are being pulled from shelves, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) said today.

TRPA aquatic invasive species (AIS) managers have contacted pet stores in the Tahoe region and all stores share the concern and are taking recommended steps, according to TRPA. The agency is coordinating with the western wide “Don’t Let It Loose” program by providing outreach materials and fish bags with imprinted info to pet stores in the Tahoe region.

Current information indicates the moss balls can be sold in packaging and can also be placed in tanks with fish for sale together. Buyers should avoid online moss ball sales as well. The discovery was made at a pet store in Washington, according to reports. Wildlife agencies in Nevada and California are also taking steps to prevent the sale of these products and to properly dispose of them statewide and in neighboring communities. The 2009 Lake Tahoe AIS Management Plan estimated that cumulative impacts from a mussel infestation could cost the region more than $20 million a year.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a webpage with more information, recommended disposal methods, and how to report sightings.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.