The native White-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) is under great risk of extinction at the claws of the North American Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) which has been rapidly spreading through the country and that competes for food and living space and carries the deadly crayfish plague. We have lost 70% of White-clawed crayfish populations in South West England over the last 30 years; it is already extinct in many river systems and is at increasing risk of national extinction.
|White-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) © John Mason|
On Thursday 25th November, a team from Buglife, the Kemerton Conservation Trust, the Avon Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency will be moving the first White-clawed crayfish from a stream in north Worcestershire to a safe haven "Ark site‟ at Kemerton nature reserve, near Tewkesbury. The crayfish are threatened at their current site as Signal crayfish have been found downstream and they are moving closer each year.
|North American Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) © Suzannah Dangerfield|
The Kemerton Ark site is a lake in a former sand and gravel pit, which is ideal for the White-clawed crayfish, but initially didn't offer many places for the crayfish to hide away. Fortunately, the previous owner, Huntsmans Quarries generously donated over 80 tonnes of stone for the construction of crayfish habitat in the lake. Kemerton Conservation Trust and Buglife volunteers added extra homes for the crayfish in the form of over 100 faggots made of tree branches and brash.
Buglife Crayfish Conservation Officer Kate O‟Neill says "Time is running out for our White-clawed crayfish. It is a shame that it has come to this but we must now take urgent action to save this wonderful creature from extinction. By working with quarrying companies like Huntsmans we can save local crayfish populations and give them a chance of survival."
John Clarke from the Kemerton Conservation Trust comments "We are pleased to welcome the White-clawed crayfish to our nature reserve, and proud to be part of the conservation of such a fantastic animal."
Make a donation to crayfish today
Kate adds "There are many other populations in danger now, please help us to take action to save the White-clawed crayfish by clicking here to donate to the project."
This project is supported by Natural England through Defra‟s Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, Naturesave Trust and by the Environment Agency.
Visit our new crayfish website
To find out more about Buglife and crayfish conservation visit our new crayfish website by clicking here.