An invasive species of crayfish has been found in a Michigan lake and the DNR says anglers are to blame.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced in a press release that several dead red swamp crayfish, a species native to the southeastern part of the U.S., were discovered in Lake Macatawa in Ottawa County. The discovery came as a part of a survey of crayfish in the area.
Michigan does not allow the importing of live species of crayfish for bait. The DNR says anglers are buying the crayfish at food markets to use as bait. It is illegal just to possess live red swamp crayfish in the state.
The discovery is concerning because this species has been shown to be very hardy, even in a more northerly climate.
“This crayfish was found in southeastern Wisconsin ponds in 2009, proving its ability to live in northern states such as Michigan,” Nick Popoff, DNR Aquatic Species and Regulatory Affairs Program Supervisor said.
The large, dark red crustacean reproduces quickly and causes damage to shorelines and structures. Popoff said law enforcement and fisheries will be working to increase public awareness of crayfish regulations to attempt to reduce the spread of this invasive species.
The release does not state if the offenders who introduced the discovered crayfish are known or have been caught, but DNR officials are encouraging the public to report anyone seen using the invasive species bait.