CENTRAL POINT, Oregon (KTVZ) – Northern crayfish have been found in the Ashland Channel, marking the first documented existence of this non-native species in Oregon.
Native to the Midwest, invasive populations of northern crayfish exist in California and Washington.
This finding could be bad news for Oregon’s native signal crayfish – northern crayfish are much more aggressive. And as omnivores, they can prey on signal crayfish, salmon and rainbow trout eggs, and consume native vegetation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday. Oregon.
Since the Ashland Channel leads to Bear Creek and the Rogue River, ODFW Invasive Species Coordinator Rick Boatner says the Northern Crayfish has the potential to replicate what the Rusty Crayfish did in the John Day River Basin.
Rusty crayfish are thought to have been released into the John Day River near Mitchell by a school party about 42 years ago. These crayfish have since taken over most of the river from native signal crayfish and are expected to enter the Columbia River by 2025. Signal crayfish are now displaced and rarely seen today.
Although the Ashland Canal may have low levels of storm water, crayfish may burrow into the mud and wait for higher water. They can also travel overland to other bodies of water.
Boatner and his team will begin surveying selected areas of the canal starting above Emigrant Reservoir to Lithia Park and trapping any northern crayfish found. If the species is established, Boatner says, it is most likely here to tell and will continue to spread in the Rogue River Basin.
If anyone is aware of a crayfish release in the Ashland area, you are encouraged to contact Boatner at 503-947-6308. Schools are reminded that class specimens cannot be released into the wild; a permit is required to import non-native crayfish into Oregon. Aquarium fish and other pets are also not allowed to be released. These actions can cause significant harm to Oregon’s native fish and wildlife species, the ODFW said.
People are encouraged to report invasive fish and wildlife to https://oregoninvasiveshotline.org/