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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Researchers Discover Undocumented Crayfish Species in Kansas

PRATT –Widespread sampling for invasive crayfish had never occurred in Kansas lakes – that is, until the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) recently funded a university project focused on the freshwater crustacean. KDWP’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Program and Ecological Services section funded the project with the overarching goal of establishing sampling protocols that could then be used for long-term monitoring of both native and invasive crayfish in Kansas. To the surprise of staff and researchers, the need for such protocols would be validated almost as quickly as the research project began.

During capturing efforts at McPherson State Fishing Lake – one of several small waterbodies slated to be inspected in the state – university researchers collected multiple Rusty Crayfish. Rusty Crayfish have not previously been documented in the wild in Kansas, making this official “discovery” the first of its kind. Rusty Crayfish captured at McPherson consisted of both males and females of varying ages, indicating a reproducing population is established in the lake. Unfortunately, this isn’t the type of species staff and researchers would hope to find, as the Rusty Crayfish is an invasive species known for the considerable ecological damage it can cause in waterbodies.

This large, aggressive crayfish is not only known to attack the feet of unsuspecting humans and animals standing in freshwater, it outcompetes both native fish and crayfish species for forage – forage that also acts as important cover for select prey species.

“The most likely cause of the Rusty Crayfish making its way into Kansas is through its use as fishing bait,” said KDWP Aquatic Nuisance Species coordinator, Chris Steffen. “This species is a prime example of the importance of always draining water from your boat, livewell, and bilge before leaving a waterbody, and of never moving bait from one waterbody to another. You just never know what could be hitchhiking a ride.”

Staff and researchers working on the crayfish project will continue to experiment with multiple capture methods and techniques on a small number of waterbodies around the state. Once an effective and efficient sampling protocol has been identified, staff will continue the sampling efforts across a large number of lakes across the state.

Anglers, boaters and watersport enthusiasts are encouraged to keep their eyes open for this invasive species, which can be identified by its trademark large, black-tipped claws and rust-colored spots on its upper shell. If one is discovered, freeze it in a sealed plastic bag, note the date and location of capture, and contact KDWP’s Emporia Research and Survey Office at (620) 342-0658.

For information on other aquatic nuisance species in Kansas, visit ksoutdoors.com/Fishing/Aquatic-Nuisance-Species.

Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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