- Associated Press - Saturday, July 30, 2016

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - Tribal leaders in Kodiak are working to determine why crawfish, an invasive species, are spreading into the Buskin watershed.

The small crustaceans have been spotted in the Kodiak waters occasionally since the early 2000s, but now the Sun’aq Tribe says the problem is more widespread than previously believed, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported (https://bit.ly/2ahokZy).

Sun’aq officials have been working to catch the crawfish with funds from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. So far, 228 crustaceans have been sampled including three red swamp crawfish, which are particularly rare and damaging to the area.

Kelly Krueger, a tribal biologist with Sun’aq, said all three red swamp crawfish were dead so there’s a chance they were cooked and then dumped in the lake.

Signal crawfish have also been found to be breeding in Buskin Lake.

“We’ve found females and also very, very small juveniles,” Krueger said. “We actually found one female that had eggs already hatched, because the juveniles stay with the mom for weeks through three molting periods.”

The invasive species can be damaging to the native habitat. Burrowing can affect vegetation in lakes. Sun’aq officials will spend one weekend in August electrofishing in the lake in hopes of catching and removing crawfish from the ecosystem.

“People are doing a great job catching them this year,” Krueger said. “That is helping control the population, but it looks like it might be hard to completely eliminate them unless we get a lot more funding.”

Krueger said they will apply for grant funding in order to do more research next year, including looking into aging and stomach analysis to find out their diet.


Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, https://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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