The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

Making a Difference for the Big Sandy Crayfish

Thanks in part to the Endangered Species Act, there’s work underway to help preserve and expand populations of the Big Sandy crayfish in Virginia. “With the current status, we’re in a really good spot to act immediately, so that we can potentially have some significant positive impacts on the species,” said Brian Watson, aquatic resources biologist and state malacologist for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR).

“We still have good numbers on the landscape when you compare it to something like Appalachian monkeyface (mussel)—that species is much more rare,” Watson said. “There’s not a lot of them, but we do at least have a number of streams that we can routinely go to and get a good number of animals for propagation efforts. Our goal is to try to develop the techniques to propagate and grow these crayfish, and then hopefully release them successfully back into the wild. If we were to wait 10, 15 years, we could be in a situation where the populations are struggling and it’s difficult to find the individuals. So, our hope is to catch the Big Sandy crayfish at the point when it is not quite as imperiled as some of these other species are, so we can have more of a benefit and actually recover them. The goal would be to de-list the crayfish [from the Endangered Species List], but at least conservation activities would help so we don’t see their status decline any further.”

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