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Wyoming is home to seven native mussel species: plain pocketbook mussel, California floater, Western pearlshell, white heelsplitter, cylindrical papershell, giant floater, and fatmucket. These seven species belong in Wyoming and are important for aquatic ecosystems to function properly. As filter feeders, they help keep the rivers and waterways clean. 

The “bad” mussels that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department looks for when inspecting your boat are the zebra and quagga mussels. These invasive species are not native to Wyoming; in fact, they aren’t even native to North America. They are from the Black and Caspian Seas near Eurasia and were accidentally introduced into the Great Lakes region of the U.S. in the early 1980s. Since then, they have spread rapidly throughout the United States, most notably in neighboring South Dakota, Nebraska and Utah. 

Invasive zebra and quagga mussels have not been found in Wyoming. Zebra and quagga mussels are extremely prolific and can completely infiltrate waters quite rapidly. They remove nutrients from water, clog pipes and waterways, damage boats and out-compete native mussel species. Help keep them out of Wyoming by following clean, drain, dry protocol for watercraft and other equipment.

Travis Beam
Laramie AIS specialist

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