Yampa River: Rusty crayfish invade headwaters

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

[Colorado Division of Wildlife] officials have identified rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) in the headwaters of the Yampa River, prompting an immediate closure to the take of live crayfish from the waters in the Yampa River basin. Crayfish, also known as “crawdads,” are a popular bait and food item. It is not uncommon to find people collecting the animals from Colorado waters. Rusty crayfish are an aggressive species native to the Ohio River basin in the upper Midwest, but human activity has moved them throughout the northeast and into southern Canada. The discovery of rusty crayfish in the Yampa basin is a first in Colorado. Because of their large size and aggressive nature, rusty crayfish can impact fish populations by consuming small fish and fish eggs. The species can also negatively impact fish and spread unwanted aquatic plants by aggressively harvesting underwater plant beds. “They’re not selective in their feeding, so they’ll eat whatever fish eggs are there and whatever plants are there,” said Elizabeth Brown, Division of Wildlife aquatic nuisance species coordinator. “Any native species is at risk for food-web disruption from these critters.”

More invasive species coverage here.

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