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Orconectes rusticus

THE CRIMES: Severely reduces lake and stream vegetation. Deprives native fish and their prey of cover and food. Reduces native crayfish populations.

DESCRIPTION: Brown body crayfish with claws that are larger than some other crayfish. Typically, but not always, it has a rust-colored spot on each side of its shell.

The Interrogation
Where are you from?
I'm a home-grown invader from the Ohio River Valley, in Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio.
How did you get here?
When they traveled north to fish, some anglers probably brought me up yonder to use for bait. I've also been sold as an aquarium pet and supplied to schools. There are even some people who like to raise me for food and bait. When opportunity knocks because y'all have released me into lakes and rivers, off I go to raise a ruckus!
What’s your problem?
I like to bully the other crayfish species and force them out of the best daytime hiding spots. I tell ya, I'm tougher than a one-eared cat when it comes to defending myself when a fish attacks. In terms of causing trouble, let me tell y'all some more! Sometimes I mate with native crayfish species, which reduces their numbers. I eat the eggs of native fish, and I can destroy whole beds of aquatic plants, which really messes with species that use them for shelter! I even harass y'all--people don't swim anymore in the lakes I infest because before too long they step on me and I pinch 'em hard!
How can we control you?
Some people have tried to rein me in by using me for food or bait, but others think y'all ought not do that. If people see that they can make money off of me, some folks might spread me on purpose so they can get in on the deal! There's a heap of chemicals that can kill me, but they all kill the native crayfish species too. The best way to control me is to be very careful not to spread me to other places. Don't even think of using me as bait and don't take me home as a pet. You also ought to clean your equipment after you fish in waters where I am causing trouble.
Reward: The honor of protecting our water resources— A healthier environment and more opportunities to enjoy our natural areas.