Saturday, 20 October 2018

Warning over American predator

AN “invasive” crayfish species has been discovered in Benson brook.

AN “invasive” crayfish species has been discovered in Benson brook.

Residents are being urged to kill the creatures humanely rather than put them back in the watercourse.

Concern was sparked after resident Eileen Manning wrote to the Benson Bulletin, saying she had landed an American, or signal, crayfish.

She wrote: “I immediately put it back in but later wondered if this was the correct thing to do. My sister told me I should have cooked it! An introduced species, are they considered to be a pest?”

Keith Tibbs, from the Benson Ecological Study Team, said: “I am afraid it is not good news. The American crayfish is a predatory species that has no saving graces apart from being good to eat!

“It is invasive, having been imported from the US in the Seventies and bred for the restaurant trade. To quote from a very recent pamphlet issued by the Canal and River Trust, this ‘aggressive predator has a seemingly insatiable appetite and carries a disease that is fatal to our endangered native white-clawed crayfish’.

“If signal crayfish are caught, either deliberately or accidentally, they must not be put back into the water and have to be killed. Sorry to be so negative on the subject, but they are described as ‘a major threat to the ecosystems of our rivers and canals’.”

Resident David King added: “Signal crayfish can be humanely dispatched with a knife point thrust through behind the head. The tails, when cooked, are wonderful in a sandwich with rocket and mayonnaise.”

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