Salem, OR – The northern ringed crayfish, an aquatic invasive species, has been discovered in the Umpqua River system in southwest Oregon. Native to the Mississippi River, the ringed crayfish was first documented in Oregon’s Rogue River in the early 1960s, most likely of the result of live crayfish used as bait by anglers and intentional releases by schools or pet owners.
Invasive crayfish are a problem as they aggressively compete with Oregon’s native crayfish, the American signal crayfish, and can introduce disease and disrupt aquatic food webs. Currently, there are three known invasive crayfish established in Oregon’s freshwaters: the rusty crayfish, the red swamp crayfishand the northern ringed crayfish.
The northern ringed crayfish were discovered in the South Umpqua River in July 2011 by USDA Forest Service Aquatic and Riparian Effectiveness Monitoring Program (AREMP) teams who were assessing the effectiveness of the Northwest Forest Plan on watershed health.
Oregonians are asked to help stop the spread of invasive crayfish in three ways:
- Never use live crayfish for bait—it’s illegal and bad for the environment.
- Never release classroom pets or laboratory specimens into the wild—it’s prohibited and unethical.
- Learn to identify Oregon’s native crayfish, the American signal crayfish, so you can report suspected invasive crayfish online at the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline website or by calling 1-866-INVADER.