Originally introduced as leftover bait, the rusty crayfish is an increasingly common invasive species found throughout Wisconsin. This species is found in small numbers in the Lower Chippewa River Basin. The rusty crayfish can migrate on its own both by hitchhiking on watercraft and by travelling through standing and running waterways.
Knowing how rusty crayfish spread can help us prevent them from proliferating in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. Rusty crayfish can travel by boat bilge or on watercraft. So before you leave a waterway, empty all containers holding water back into that waterway and carefully remove any visible plants, soil, and animals that may have "hitchhiked" during your trip. At home, hose down your watercraft with hot water from a high pressure sprayer or allow your boat to dry on land for five days to ensure unwanted "hitchhikers" too small to see don't survive and travel to a new waterway with you. Finally, never release bait species such as minnows, crayfish, or worms into the body of water you are fishing. This is illegal. Check with government sites such as the USDA National Invasive Species Information Center to ensure that you are following the laws. By taking simple precautions, we can all help prevent the spread of invasive species in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area.