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Invasive Crayfish discovered in Nova Scotia’s Lower Sackville

By Evan Taylor Oct 23, 2023 | 11:31 AM

coniferconifer / CC

An unwelcome intruder from the southern United States, the red swamp crayfish, locally referred to as crawdad in Louisiana, has been officially identified in a local lake near Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, located just outside Halifax. This marks the initial verified detection of the red swamp crayfish in Canada.

This particular crayfish species poses a significant threat to our local ecosystems, as confirmed by staff with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). They disclosed that these invaders carry parasites, compete aggressively for vital resources within the lake, devour fish eggs, and modify the local habitat by burrowing. Their presence could potentially disrupt the ecological balance of the area.

The first discovery of a red swamp crayfish within Nova Scotia occurred in 2022 when an angler spotted one in Three Mile Lake. Notably, this summer, a total of 70 red swamp crayfish have been successfully trapped, indicating their survival through the winter.

However, the method by which these crustaceans, resembling small lobsters, were introduced into Waverley, Nova Scotia’s diminutive lake remains a mystery.

The red swamp crayfish species is typically raised for consumption, marketed for aquariums, and employed as bait by local anglers. It remains uncertain whether these invasive crayfish have spread to other areas in the region.

“We are apprehensive that they may extend their range beyond their current habitat,” DFO staff disclosed during a lakeside media briefing held on Thursday. “Our trapping efforts are aimed at precisely determining their distribution and proximity to any potential outlets to neighboring lakes.”

In response to this concerning discovery, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is urging the public to promptly report any sightings of these red swamp crayfish and strongly advises against relocating them. Vigilance and cooperation from local residents will be instrumental in managing this emerging ecological challenge.