The Rusty Crayfish (Orconectes rusticus)

Rusty Crayfish
The Rusty Crayfish. Click for larger image.

View the "Do Not Spread The Rusty Crayfish" brochure in pdf format.

  • Rusty crayfish, a non-native, invasive species of crayfish, have recently been found in Falcon Lake. They may have been intentionally introduced into the lake from a bait bucket release, a mercy release, or from an unintentional release such as a boat transfer.
  • Rusty crayfish represent a significant environmental concern to Manitoba because they are an aggressive invasive species, are prolific spawners, and can severely reduce lake and stream vegetation, depriving native fish of cover, spawning habitat and food. They also reduce native crayfish populations.
  • Rusty crayfish are native to streams in Ohio and were introduced to the Great Lakes by anglers who use them for bait. They have spread west via inter-connecting waterways and bait bucket transfers.
  • Rusty crayfish reached Lake of the Woods in 1990 and were reported present in the Ontario portion of the Winnipeg River in 2006.
  • Past experience in other North America watersheds indicate that once rusty crayfish are established they can not be eradicated. The best method of control is reducing the risk of accidental introduction from one waterbody to another.
  • Rusty crayfish can be identified by their larger size, brown body and rusty colored patches on each side and claws with black bands near tips
Rusty Crayfish

What you can do

  • Never use crayfish as bait.
  • Never collect crayfish and release them from one body of water into another.
  • Never collect crayfish for aquarium purposes.
  • Never collect crayfish for consumptive purposes.
  • Remove mud, vegetation and bilge from boats prior to transport.

Current Regulations

  • Effective May 1, 2007, it is illegal to possess crayfish (this includes possession for consumption).
  • Manitoba no longer issues experimental commercial fishing licenses for the harvest of crayfish.
  • Manitoba has listed rusty crayfish on the amended Prohibited Species list of the Manitoba Fisheries Regulations under The Fisheries Act.

If you think you have encountered an aquatic invasive species, or need further information, please contact:

Manitoba Sustainable Development, Fisheries Branch
Box 20, 200 Saulteaux Cres.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3J 3W3

Telephone: 204-945-7787
Fax: 204-948-2308
Toll Free: 1-877-867-2470
Email: fish@gov.mb.ca