Critter of the Month: Rusty Crayfish WATCH

Rusty Crayfish Watch

Rusty Crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) are invasive crestations spreading to lakes, rivers and streams in several areas of North America. They are more aggressive than other native crayfish, better able to avoid fish predation, and can harm native fish populations by eating their eggs and young. They can displace native crayfish, hybridize with them, and graze on and eliminate aquatic plants.

Native to the Ohio River drainage, rusty crayfish have spread to several U.S. States and Ontario. They have likely spread through bait bucket release by anglers, aquarium release by hobbyists, activities of commercial harvesters, and live study specimen release by teachers and students who buy them from biological supply houses. Females can carry fertilized eggs or male’s sperm so even the release of a single female could establish a new population. Eradicating established infections is impossible. Your help detecting and reporting new infestations is very important for preventing the spread.

 

What you can do to help:

*Learn to recognize Rusty Crayfish WATCH.

* Inspect and remove visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from boat, motors and trailers before transport.

* Drain lake or river water from bilge, livewell and motor before leaving access.

* Dispose of unwanted live bait, worms and fish parts in the trash.

* Never dump live fish or live bait into another body of water. If it didn’t start in there it doesn’t belong in there, take it back with you.

* Rinse boat and equipment with high pressure, hot water, AND/OR

* Dry everything for a minimum of five days or more before reuse.

* Report suspected new sightings – not exact location; wrap a plant/animal/mussel fragment in a wet paper towel, place in a sealed plastic bag; and call the Minnesota Sea Grant Program in Duluth, (210-726-8712; or a Minnesota DNR Invasive Species Specialist (see www.mndnr.gov/invasives/contacts.html), 1-888-MINNDNR or (651) 259-5100.

Reminder: Know the rules!

Specimens are needed to confirm sightings, but some jurisdictions prohibit possession and transport of invasive aquatic plants and animals. Unauthorized introduction of plants, fish, or invertebrates into the wild is illegal. Protect your property and our waters.

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