IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission announced on Friday that zebra mussels have been identified in Iredell County.

This is the first time this harmful invasive aquatic species has been identified in the wild in North Carolina. 

On Thursday, the NCWRC, with help from scuba divers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, investigated and confirmed a report of zebra mussels in a quarry on private property.

The NCWRC believes the mussels are only in the quarry and is working on options for treatment while continuing its investigation. 

Adult mussels can move to other water bodies by attaching themselves to boats, docks lifts and other water-related equipment. Microscopic larvae can be transported in any water that is moved to another location including through diving equipment, live wells, bait buckets, boat bilges or other gear.  

Zebra mussels can quickly take over an environment once they are established and affect the health of other aquatic wildlife by disrupting the food chain and changing the chemistry of the water.

They are capable of clogging both public drinking and wastewater systems as well as damaging recreational equipment. 

In March 2021, zebra mussels were found living in moss balls that were being sold in pet stores for aquarium use.

Because of their destructive impact, it is unlawful to transport, purchase, possess, sell or stock zebra mussels in public or private North Carolina waters.  

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To prevent the spread of invasive species, NCWRC offers the following guidance

  • Clean equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud. 
  • Drain water from boats, live wells, bait buckets and all equipment. 
  • Dry all equipment thoroughly 
  • Never Move fish, plants or other organisms from one body of water to another

To report suspected zebra mussels, you are asked to contact the NCWRC’s district fisheries biologist offices.  

You can visit NCWRC’s aquatic nuisance species webpage for guidance on disinfecting snorkel and SCUBA gear and for more information on zebra mussels.