White-Clawed Crayfish set to become the Red Squirrel of our times?

I reported in 2021 that the public are being requested to report suspected sightings of non-native crayfish (pictured here) or dead native white-clawed crayfish through this online form as there were reports of a suspected outbreak of crayfish plague in the midlands.

There is now a new warning today that an outbreak of crayfish plague on the River Blackwater in the south of the country could wipe out the total population of the native crustacean.

The white-clawed crayfish is a globally threatened species with Ireland holding one of the largest surviving populations, providing an important food source for otters.

The establishment of non-native crayfish in Britain and Europe has been that these species have had very severe impacts on river ecosystems as they act as carriers of the disease but have developed a resistance. No resistance has been discovered in native European crayfish.

Water users are also being urged to wash and dry their equipment to try to stop the spread of the disease.