Thursday, October 28, 2010

Emergency order: Rusty Crawfish – No Transport!

ALAMOSA, Colo. - Colorado Division of Wildlife Director Tom Remington today signed an emergency order prohibiting the transport of live crayfish from Sanchez Reservoir State Wildlife Area in Costilla County following the discovery of invasive rusty crayfish at the popular southern Colorado reservoir.

DOW invasive species sampling technicians collected several specimens of rusty crayfish during routine shoreline surveys in late August and early September. Subsequent testing performed at the Aquatic Animal Health Lab in Brush in September identified the specimens as rusty crayfish. The Illinois State Museum confirmed the finding on Oct. 14.

"Rusty crayfish are a tenacious invasive species that have the potential to impact streams and lakes," said Greg Gerlich, the DOW's aquatic section manager. "We need the public's help to prevent this noxious pest from being moved to other places across the state."

The discovery of rusty crayfish at Sanchez Reservoir marks the third location where the species has been detected in Colorado. State wildlife officials first discovered the species in 2009 in the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs--prompting a basin-wide emergency prohibition on the take of live crayfish.

Link to full announcement on CDOW website.

This species, which is native to the Ohio River basin, can often be identified by two rust colored marks on its mid-back area, near the area where one would place a thumb and finger to pick the animal up.

Matt’s Rant: Every time you turn around there is another invasive species attacking our wildlife areas and natural habitats here in Colorado. These invasive species displace the native species and disturb the natural order. How they get here is usually through some sort of human introduction only to learn much later the ramifications.

Rusty crawfish seem to be a badass version of the original crawfish with larger claws and a serious attitude towards the native versions. Left unchecked, these crawfish eventually will overpopulate and completely eliminate the native versions. Will this be the end of all humankind and Earth as we know it? No. But it may take yet another bite out of the overall quality in the habitat thus hurting fishing overall.

Most fish that rely on crawfish for forage will adapt to rusty crawfish as they have in so many areas where these warmwater fish and rusty crawfish share habitat. However, many of the fish species have acclimated themselves to the native versions and may adapt slowly to the invasive crayfish. How fish react to the different bacteria as well as aquatic vegetation loss that rusty crawfish are associated with is yet another.

At the very least this will create extra restrictions, additional regulations, more red tape at additional cost to managing agencies that eventually get passed down somewhere. The impact is felt to everyone that frequents our watersheds. My biggest fear is that there will be another layer of scrutiny added to anglers and more waters will be closed to our access.

This is yet another good reason to stop taking aquatic organisms from one area and moving them to another particularly crawfish. If you fish with crawfish for bait, please take additional time to catch them from the same lake you are using them in.

Good luck and good fishing.

Links, references and acknowledgements:


Cofisher said...

My suggestion is to import a large number of Cajuns and invite them to an all you can eat crayfish buffet. Of course I don't know what you do once the crayfish are gone.

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Ah, but the real question is, Can you eat them??? JK

Shoreman said...

Could always throw out a trap or two. They're mighty good boiled with a little butter.


troutrageous1 said...

Man...these guys beat me to it. Sounds like a boil is in order - toss in some potatoes, corn, and andouille - and we'll get rid of those guys asap!

Basspastor said...

Rusty's are an invasive here in MN. I have caught them before in Leech Lake. To be honest they don't seem to be to much of a nuisence as they don't get the press of E. milfoil, zebra mussels, or spiny water flea's. I guess they supposidly eliminated some weeds from Leech and Vermillion but other than that you don't hear about them. Maybe it's because Leech and Vermillion are so far North.

Coloradocasters said...

Thanks for the support on this post. Hopefully raising awareness on invasive species overall generates more concern about unwanted transport of all aquatic species.

The graphics team really knocked themselves out on the picture for this one so I kinda felt obligated to post this up.

Tim Gerke said...

I will transport them to my belly! I love a good crawfish boil.

Unknown said...

What ever happened to Matt?

steve evans said...

What ever happened to Matt?