Alert over ‘tenacious’ crayfish annihilating the area’s waterways

17 November 2003.. Pictured with 4 year old adult White- Clawed Crayfish in Stainforth near Settle.
17 November 2003.. Pictured with 4 year old adult White- Clawed Crayfish in Stainforth near Settle.
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An infestation of crayfish near Whitby is said to be wiping out indigenous species from the local water ways.

David Gray, who lives at Tocketts Bridge Farm, said there is no life whatsoever in his local waterway as the “tenacious” crustaceans eat everything in the path.

He said they can easily move on to the next water way when ready – and could soon be heading to the River Esk.

“They have annihilated virtually everything that lives in the waterway here in Guisborough,” said David.

“They grow up to six inches long and May is the time they release up to 300 eggs into the waterway.

“They travel across land so once a waterway becomes infected and there are no more things to eat in it, they will travel across land to the next waterway.

“They eat everything from small little ducklings, other birds, all the fish, all the greenery, everything that’s in the beck has gone.

“So my beck here at Tocketts which is the waterway coming out of Saltburn is devoid of any life whatsoever apart from these things.”

David, who is from Whitby and once played a part in twinning Caedmon College with a school in the Gambia, said 1,000 people a week visit his car boot sale and that more and more are asking ‘what’s that in the water?’

“My advice to any landowner who sees one of these is to take it from the water and kill it. I don’t think you are allowed to put it back into the water,” he said.

“Or if the waterway is clean enough, then eat it.

“There is no method of controlling them as far as I know, it’s a timebomb.

“I don’t think many people are aware that we have such a critter like this living in our waterways. There is nothing that preys on them apart from mink and heron.”

He said the crayfish can travel over land, they can easily get into people’s ponds and snaffle their goldfish. When David moved to the area in 1975, his local beck was thriving with wildlife, such as eel, sticklebacks, water voles, kingfishers and dragonflies.

Crayfish are the cousins of lobsters, also known as crawfish, crawdads and mud bugs.

As well as feeding off plant material, snails, small fish and insect larvae, they are said to also eat hot dogs and catfood.