Rusty Crayfish: Invasive, but delicious

Are you in the mood for some fresh seafood? How about a crayfish boil? The crayfish, corn, potatoes, and sausage all boiling, providing a wonderful aroma. Add some Old Bay Seasoning and you’ve got a feast. If this sounds fantastic, you can either travel to Louisiana to get it or you can feast locally. The Vermillion River and its tributaries are host to plenty of crayfish to fill your belly.

The Vermillion River and its tributaries are host to native crayfish, but also an invasive crayfish called the Rusty Crayfish. Rusty Crayfish are native to the Ohio River basin. It’s unclear how the Rusty Crayfish found itself a home locally, but it’s likely it was introduced via fishing using Rusty Crayfish as live bait that escaped or was part of someone’s aquarium and was released. It’s here now and thriving.

You can identify Rusty Crayfish by looking for a rusty-colored patch on each side of its body.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Rusty Crayfish can destroy aquatic plant beds, displace native crayfish species, mate with native crayfish, compete with local fish for prey, or consume fish eggs. Therefore, it’s important to do your part in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. Be sure to follow Minnesota laws:

  • Clean watercraft, trailers and equipment to remove aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water and leave drain plugs out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
  • Never release bait, plants, or aquarium pets into Minnesota waters.
  • Dry docks, lifts and rafts for 21 days before moving them from one water body to another.

Now that it’s in the River and tributaries, unfortunately little can be done about it. There is no known population control for Rusty Crayfish in natural water bodies currently. While it may not have a significant impact on their population, trapping may reduce their numbers.  If you wish to trap crayfish to have a little feast while reducing the population in the River and tributaries, you can do so provided you follow Minnesota Laws.