Consumer Alert: Aquarium Moss Balls May Contain Invasive Zebra Mussels

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Image courtesy of invasivespeciesinfo.gov

RALEIGH, N.C. (March 5, 2021) – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is warning anyone who has recently purchased aquarium moss balls that they may contain an invasive species of mussel called the zebra mussel and should be carefully discarded immediately. While no confirmed cases have been reported in North Carolina, the Wildlife Commission received notice that it appears the moss balls were imported from Ukraine to a distributor in California that recently shipped contaminated product to pet stores nationwide. The facility that imports the moss balls has been quarantined and all shipments of moss balls have been stopped, according to a news release from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. A moss ball is a species of green algae that is formed into a ball and is two to five inches in diameter. Moss balls are purchased for home aquariums to help absorb harmful nutrients in the water and limit the growth of undesirable algae.It is likely that retail outlets that sell the moss balls may be unaware that they are potentially selling a contaminated product with an invasive species. Not only are zebra mussels harmful to other aquatic wildlife, they can also clog water pipes and restrict water supplies. Fisheries biologist Todd Ewing stated, “The Wildlife Commission has led a concerted effort to keep the species out of the state because of both the negative ecological and commercial impacts. It’s actually illegal to possess zebra mussels in North Carolina.”If you have recently purchased moss balls, the Commission is urging the public to dispose of them immediately by placing them in a plastic bag and freezing them overnight, boiling them or soaking them overnight in a bleach solution (one cup bleach per gallon of water). The moss balls should then be bagged and disposed of in the trash. Living moss balls or untreated water should not be disposed of in any location where they could reach sewage systems or streams or lakes. For your aquarium, remove the fish and apply the bleach solution and let it set for at least one hour before disposing the water down the sink or toilet. Filters, gravel and structures should also be disinfected as described above before disposing of water down the toilet.The Commission will work with retail outlets as well as state and federal agencies to monitor the situation. Visit the agency’s website to learn more about aquatic nuisance species. About the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Due to COVID-19, we encourage the public to visit ncwildlife.org to purchase fishing, trapping and hunting licenses and to renew a vessel registration. Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities.Get N.C. Wildlife Update — news including season dates, bag limits, legislative updates and more — delivered free to your Inbox from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

November 2020 SWCD Board Meeting

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The McDowell County Soil and Water Conservation District will hold their monthly meeting on November 17, 2020. For more information about the meeting, please call 828-652-4434 or email Andrea Webb, Office Administrator, at andrea.webb@mcdowellgov.com

Monthly Board Meeting

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The McDowell County Soil and Water Conservation District will hold their monthly meeting on September 8, 2020. For more information about the meeting, please call 828-652-4434 or email Andrea Webb, Office Administrator, at andrea.webb@mcdowellgov.com

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August 2020 SWCD Board meeting

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The McDowell County Soil and Water Conservation District will hold their monthly meeting on August 11, 2020 via teleconference. For more information about the meeting, please call 828-652-4434 or email Andrea Webb, Office Administrator, at andrea.webb@mcdowellgov.com

DO NOT Plant Unsolicited Seeds Received in the Mail From China

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Many people have received unsolicited packages from China labeled as containing earrings, but actually containing seeds. DO NOT plant these seeds as they could be a pathway for the introduction of invasive species, insects, and plant diseases.

This type of international shipment of plant material is unlawful and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services asks anyone who received one of these unsolicited foreign shipments to save the contents along with all shipping labels and contact the Plant Industry Division toll-free at 800-206-9333 or email at newpest@ncagr.gov. Plant Industry staff will contact you to gather information and pick up the package.

North Carolina residents are not in violation of any regulations if they received these shipments, but they are the key to identifying and stopping future shipments. If you received an unsolicited packet of seeds send an email to newpest@ncagr.gov with:

  • contact information including:
  • Name
  • Address
  • City
  • Phone number
  • a picture of the seeds and the package

Then place the contents in a zip-lock bag. They will send a staff member to pick up the seed.

– Lucy Bradley, Urban Horticulture Professor and Extension Specialist

July 2020 SWCD Board meeting

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The McDowell County Soil and Water Conservation District will hold their monthly meeting on July 14, 2020 at 11:00am via teleconference. For more information about the meeting, please call 828-652-4434 or email Andrea Webb, Office Administrator, at andrea.webb@mcdowellgov.com

Awards Ceremony Rescheduled

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The McDowell County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2020 Awards Ceremony, originally scheduled for Friday, March 13th at 5:30pm, has been cancelled. The SWCD will send out invitations when a new date has been determined.

SWCD District Speech Contest Winner

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Congratulations to Peyton Webb, the 2020 Soil and Water Conservation District Speech Contest Winner. She will present her speech at the Area Competition at the end of February. We wish Peyton the best of luck!

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Wetlands are Wonderful 2020 Contest

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The 2020 McDowell County Soil and Water Conservation District Contest theme is “Wetlands Are Wonderful”. There is a Poster, Essay and Public Speaking Contest.

Poster Contest – 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade

Essay Contest – 6th grade

Speech Contest – 7th and 8th grade

The Contest Entries are due to McDowell SWCD by Jan. 31, 2020.  For more information and rules for the contest, please call Andrea Webb at 828-652-4434.

Limekiln Creek Stream Restoration

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McDowell County Soil and Water Department recently completed 1,000 linear feet of stream restoration on North Cove Elementary School Campus. Project partners included: McDowell County Schools, Mountain Valleys RC&D Council, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, NCDACS Division of Soil and Water Conservation, Jennings Environmental, PLLC. and Belflower Farms, LLC. The project was a joint venture with the Soil & Water District office through the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Look for further updates to this project in Spring 2020.Before and after