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Featured Image Credit: NWWT National Trust/Annapurna Mello
Brits are being urged to kill an American species of crayfish as soon as they spot it because of the deadly threat it poses.
Walkers and river users should stab a knife into the American signal crayfish’s brain, as it is the most humane way to kill the creature.
The miniature lobster has become increasingly common in UK waters, but due to their domineering size, menacing claws and healthy appetites they’re starting to wipe out their smaller white-claw crayfish cousins.
Scientists predict that around 90% of the species has now gone.
While it might seem harsh, it is illegal to leave the American signal crayfish alive if you spot it. However, it’s vital you check it isn’t the endangered white-claw variety first before you bludgeon it to death.
Helen Carter-Emsell, a crayfish expert, told North Wales Live: “We realise not everyone will have a knife with them.
“The alternative is to squash them under a rock, though we recognise some people might find this unpleasant.”
The main way to differentiate the two is by the colour of their claws. Signal claws are red underneath with a white or blue blotch, whereas true to its name, white-claw crayfish claws are a lot paler.
To help stop contamination into other waters, Helen also advises that people should wash their shoes, dry their dogs, and clean their boats and fishing tackle before heading home.
Signal crayfish can grow up to 12 inches long and females can carry up to 250 eggs.
According to the Mirror, the species was introduced to the UK from the US in the late 70s when crayfish plague had almost wiped out white-claw crayfish populations.
The plague doesn’t affect signals (although they can still be carriers of the disease) but it is deadly to white-claws.
But it’s not just the disease which is giving them their parasitic reputation. Signals also feast on fish eggs, burrow into river banks – often causing them to collapse – and even dine on white-claws.
In an attempt to stop them spreading, Carter-Emsell – who is Wellbeing Officer for the North Wales Resilient Ecosystems pilot project – asks that people don’t develop a taste for them too.
“We’d also encourage people not to develop a taste for crayfish and start creating their own food supplies in rivers, as this risks spreading signal crayfish to new areas,” she added.