Northern crayfish continues its Alberta invasion, this time, in mountain parks

If you have not noticed a northern crayfish in Alberta already, there’s now yet one more spot the place you may see one swimming about. 

Parks Canada lately caught one of many mini-lobster trying critters close to a stream flowing into Bow Lake in Banff Nationwide Park. 

It is the primary time they’ve seen the aquatic invasive species up to now upstream within the Bow River or within the mountain nationwide parks.

“We’re persevering with our efforts to attempt to detect whether or not or not there are extra or if there’s a longtime inhabitants within the space,” stated Megan Goudie, ecosystem scientist with the Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay subject unit with Parks Canada.

“We nonetheless have traps set within the space and are doing visible inspections incessantly.” 

Parks Canada obtained a report detailing a potential crayfish sighting within the space earlier this month, which precipitated Goudie and her colleagues to discover close by tributaries. 

After a number of days of looking, netting and setting minnow traps, they discovered one crayfish on Aug. 6. Sadly, Goudie says, the place there’s one, there’s doubtless extra.

Parks Canada ecosystem scientist Megan Goudie performs a kicknet search close to Bow Lake. (Parks Canada)

Below provincial laws, northern crayfish are thought of an aquatic invasive species of concern. 

Traditionally, they have been present in between Wainwright and Ryley within the Beaver River watershed south of Edmonton, however right now, they’re everywhere in the province, together with in Calgary.

“We’re discovering all of them the best way as much as Grand Prairie, Whitecourt, Athabasca, Chilly Lake areas, after which principally fairly persistently all the best way right down to the Montana border,” stated Nicole Kimmel, aquatic invasive species specialist with Alberta Setting and Parks.

“So it is not alarming that they jumped over into the nationwide parks, however nonetheless disappointing.”

It is unclear precisely what modifications the crayfish are inflicting of their new ecosystems, however Kimmel says an preliminary examine does level to impacts on native fish and wildlife.

Crayfish have been noticed in rivers and lakes all through Alberta, says Alberta Setting and Parks. (Submitted by Nicole Kimmel)

Crayfish can alter the meals net, altering the abundance and variety of meals that is out there for various species.

“We do have two species at-risk on this part of Banff Nationwide Park, the Bull Trout and the Westslope Cutthroat Trout,” Goudie stated.

“So our concern is that this might adversely have an effect on these species at-risk.”

‘Open season on crayfish’

Each teams suspect the crayfish have unfold via human actions, whether or not it’s utilizing them as fish bait or releasing them into different water our bodies — that are each unlawful in Alberta.

“It’s also potential, however not fairly as doubtless on this case, that it could possibly be hooked up to watercraft or aquatic leisure gear that individuals are bringing into the park,” Goudie stated.

Parks Canada is constant to observe for crayfish via using environmental DNA. It is a new software getting used to higher perceive the distribution of crayfish all through the parks.

“As species go about their regular lives, they’re shedding little bits of themselves into the water system, and so by filtering water via very particular filters, we’re in a position to choose up these little bits,” Goudie stated.

The company can be requiring non-motorized boat customers to finish a self-certification allow that confirms the person has cleaned, drained and dried their watercraft for no less than 48 hours earlier than it is utilized in Banff Nationwide Park.

Crayfish, a species not native to the Bow River, have unfold to rivers and lakes all through Alberta. (Submitted by Nicole Kimmel)

Kimmel says the Alberta authorities has additionally modified its sportfishing laws to permit for limitless angling of the crustaceans.

“We’re fairly restricted on any response management measures … they’re too widespread at this level,” she stated.

“It is just about an open season on crayfish.”

Residents can fish for crayfish utilizing a internet — or if they’ve a fishing license, with a rod — however they can’t be stored or transported.

“We have now laid expenses on some in that side in recent times, so we do know that folk are attempting to maneuver these alive, and that is in all probability why they’re being so extensively distributed so quick,” Kimmel stated.

Some folks additionally eat them, however earlier than you do, think about the place you caught them.

Any crayfish caught in pure water our bodies must be tremendous, Kimmel says, however “a few of these crayfish are being present in storm water administration amenities like within the city cities and cities. We do not suggest consuming any crayfish from these water our bodies.”

Each teams are asking residents to report any potential sightings of crayfish.

The northern selection is the one species identified to be in Alberta at this level, however others such because the rusty crayfish and the purple swamp crayfish are situated in surrounding provinces.

Footage of the sightings additionally assist, if potential.

Experiences could be submitted to the Alberta Setting and Parks hotline at 1-855-336-BOAT (2628).

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