Michigan officials send warning about crawfish, call them 'invasive'

State officials call crawfish 'a serious concern'

By Erica Young

HOUSTON - In Texas and Louisiana, we invite family and friends over to eat crawfish as part of a massive feast. We go to our favorite Cajun restaurants to indulge in their yummy deliciousness. We might even suck the heads.

In Michigan, they call them "invasive" and send out statewide warnings.

Now, state officials there have issued an invasive species alert about crawfish.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued the alert about "Red Swamp Crayfish" after finding them in two bodies of water.

Both discoveries came after citizen reports.

The first sighting was at Sunset Lake near Kalamazoo. A DNR staff found several crayfish (crawfish) in the grass of a local park and in shallow areas of the lake.

The second report came from Novi, after a child captured a crayfish (crawfish) in a dip net in a retention pond. DNR staff responded and removed 111 crayfish (crawfish) from the pond.

In its alert, the agency calls the red swamp crayfish "a serious concern."

Nick Popoff, aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager for the DNR, explains why in a news release:

"They dig deep burrows near lakes and rivers and can spread quickly over land," said Nick Popoff, an aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager for the DNR.

Popoff said that such burrows, which can be more than 3 feet deep, can cause damage (through bank destabilization) to infrastructure such as dams, levees, irrigation systems and personal property."

Sure, but have they ever eaten one straight out the boil? Or enjoyed a bowl of crawfish etouffee? Or perhaps a few mouthfuls of crawfish jambalaya would change their minds?

So how did they get there?

According to the news release, there are two possibilities.

DNR officials believe live crayfish (crawfish) may have been brought to Michigan from a Gulf Coast state for use as bait or human consumption. The other possible option is that someone may have had crawfish as a study project for school or for a pet. It is believed one of the crawfish somehow got loose, and the species spread.

So, Michigan residents have been put on notice. Officials with the Department of Natural Resources even went as far as advising people what to do if they see a crayfish (crawfish) and it's not eat them.

"Capture it, freeze it and report it," a post on the DNR Facebook page reads. The post includes a video, which asks people to take pictures of the crayfish (crawfish) and send it to them.

Another option is to call someone in Texas or Louisiana. Crawfish season is over down here. We won't let the "invasive" crustacean go to waste.

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