DNR: Investigation into invasive crayfish distribution ends with convictions

 A red swamp crayfish
A red swamp crayfish (WJRT)
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 5:05 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Nearly 150 citations were issued at the conclusion of an investigation into wholesalers after Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials say invasive crayfish were illegally distributed.

The DNR explained Friday that the multi-year investigation and prosecution was related to more than 960 invasive crayfish being distributed by several wholesalers.

The investigation started when a resident reported seeing a red swamp crayfish for sale in 2019 at a Milwaukee pet store. The DNR said that the primary distributor, Apet, was notified of Wisconsin’s invasive species law previously in 2017 after it was allegedly found delivering an invasive plant and crayfish to a store. The DNR alleged that even though it contacted the company two more times, Apet continued to ship out more crayfish to pet stores.

According to the DNR, several species of invasive crayfish that are native to the southern U.S., but not native to the northern part of the country, were distributed. This includes red swamp, mini orange and electric blue crayfish. These creatures can cause damage to native plant and animal populations, explained Lt. Warden Robert Stroess. They are also illegal to have in Wisconsin.

“Some of the more popular invasive crayfish species cause havoc in our waterways by out-competing native species, damaging shorelines, and burrowing deep into the ground to avoid winter freezing,” Stroess said.

The DNR stated that Apet delivered 847 invasive crayfish to Wisconsin customers over the course of two years, which stopped in mid-2019. The investigation yielded 147 citation convictions of “Transport, Possess or Transfer Invasive Species” from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

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