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Crayfish Pets

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					The problem is, crayfish are aliens and don’t                           native fish, insects, frogs, snakes, turtles,     to another responsible family or teacher,     10 feet in length,
belong in Arizona. They were introduced                                 and snails, and they ravenously consume           or humanely dispatched.                     • Crayfish traps or nets that are less than
purposely into a few Arizona reservoirs and                             submerged aquatic plants. They contribute       • Catch crayfish at every opportunity.          3 feet in any dimension (height,
other bodies of water decades ago, primarily                            to the decline of rare or declining species,      They are a delicious source of protein        width, and depth).
as a food source for sport fish. Unfortunately,                         such as the Chiricahua leopard frog and           and easy to prepare. The white tail and     • By hand or with any handheld,
they have dispersed beyond those original                               Three Forks springsnail, and they degrade         claw meat are comparable in taste to          nonmotorized implement that does not
sites on their own and have been acciden-                               our springs, streams, ponds, and other            lobster, shrimp, and crab.                    fire a projectile.
tally (or intentionally) moved by humans to                             aquatic ecosystems. Streams and pools
places they shouldn’t be. How did they get                              inhabited by crayfish are usually devoid of     With your support, the Arizona Game and       Traps and nets can be homemade or manu-
there? Live crayfish kept as pets, used in                              any submerged vegetation or a diversity of      Fish Department can continue to provide       factured, but they must conform to the
classroom science lessons or as fishing bait                            other living organisms, and the water is        quality sport-fishing opportunities, while    aforementioned dimensions. Unattended
are sometimes released into bodies of water                             degraded by the silt they stir up.              protecting native species and aquatic eco-    traps must have a water-resistant identifica-
by people who are unaware of the devastat-                                                                              systems for future generations to enjoy.      tion tag legibly bearing the name, address,
ing impact on aquatic ecosystem. The result?                            You can make a difference!                                                                    and fishing license number of the angler(s)
Crayfish are invading previously pristine                               There are few simple things anglers, teach-     Crayfish Catching 101                         using the trap. Laminated business cards or
waters throughout Arizona.                                              ers, pet owners, crayfish connoisseurs, and     Angling for crayfish is a great outdoor       thin sheets of aluminum inscribed with the
                                                                        others can do to help prevent the spread of     family activity, with near guaranteed suc-    aforementioned information can be at-
                                                                        crayfish.                                       cess. Families who would like to try          tached to the traps with wire, plastic
                                                                                                                        fishing for crayfish can purchase a Family    fasteners, fishing line, string, bolts, or simi-
                                                                        • Don’t transport live crayfish between         Fishing License at any Department office      lar hardware.
                                                                          bodies of water, or away from the site        at a significant savings. With an Arizona        The advantage of crayfish traps and nets
                                                                          where captured (see the Arizona Fishing       fishing license, you can catch unlimited      over dip nets and fishing poles is that the
                                                                          Regulations for current rules). You can,      numbers of crayfish every day of the year.    traps can be set, left unattended, and
                                                                          however, transport unlimited numbers          Although there is no limiting season,         checked later in the day or the next morn-
                                                      GEORGE ANDREJKO




                                                                          of dead crayfish home, or to another site     Mother Nature tends to slow or stop cray-     ing. However, all traps must be checked
                                                                          for use as bait.                              fish activity during the colder months.       daily to remove the crayfish and release any
                                                                        • Don’t release any extra live crayfish or      Generally, crayfish seem to be most active    fish or other aquatic animals accidentally
                                                                          other baitfish in your bait bucket into       between April and October, and in the                                     captured. Obvi-
Crayfish are not a native Arizona species, and at a                       the body of water when you have fin-          warmer summer months, they tend to be                                     ously, you will
number of sites their presence is having a negative                       ished fishing for the day. Extra live         most active at night.                         Raw, fatty                  need some type of
impact on both sport fish and native species.                             crayfish and baitfish should be hu-              Crayfish can be legally captured by a                                  bait to entice cray-
                                                                          manely dispatched or given to another         number of methods; some require active        meats such as fish into the trap.
                                                                          angler fishing at the site. Dumping your      participation, while others take minimal                                  Raw, fatty meats
Why is this a problem?                                                    surplus crayfish and baitfish contributes     effort. Legal methods of take include:        chicken, pork,              such as chicken,
Crayfish are a non-native species, which                                  to their spread, and could also spread                                                                                  pork, and hot dogs
means they are not a natural part of any of                               parasites and pathogens such as chytrid       • A fishing pole, rod, or stick with a line   and hot dogs                are proven crayfish
Arizona’s aquatic ecosystems. In a number                                 fungus and whirling disease to sport fish       and bait,                                                               attractants. Make
of areas, they are negatively impacting                                   and native species.                           • Handheld dip nets,                          are proven                  sure you secure the
sport-fishing opportunities, native species,                            • Unwanted household or classroom pets          • Minnow traps that are less than 24                                      bait in the center
and the aquatic ecosystems that support                                   should never be released into any body          inches in length and 12 inches or less in   crayfish                    of the trap with
these species. They compete for habitat and                               of water. Instead, crayfish should be           width or height,                                                        fishing line, a twist
resources with sport fish, as well as with                                returned to the place of purchase, given      • Seine nets less than 4 feet in height and   attractants.                tie, or a fish hook.
Where to Go?
Crayfish are distributed statewide, but for-
tunately they have not invaded every body
                                                                                                                           so, the water will turn murky, which means
                                                                                                                           it’s time to remove the crayfish.
                                                                                                                               Crayfish added to a pot of boiling water
                                                                                                                           will cook up in about five minutes. When
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Crayfish
of water. You can find them in canals,
streams, bedrock pools, springs, ponds,                                                                                    the body or tail turns bright red, they are
livestock tanks, reservoirs, and lakes. The                                                                                ready to eat. For extra flavor, add garlic,
two species in Arizona seem to prefer                                                                                      peppers, lemon slices, crab/seafood boil, or
places with a little rocky cover, aquatic                                                                                  other seasonings to the boiling water. Cray-
vegetation, and still or slow-moving water.                                                                                fish tail and claw meat can be substituted in
Some popular “crayfish fishing holes” in-                                                                                  many seafood recipes. They are delicious
clude lakes Mary, Ashurst, Hawley, Woods                                                                                   dipped in prepared cocktail sauce. Try add-
Canyon, Apache, Horseshoe, Bartlett,                                                                                       ing a little of your favorite hot sauce to
Roosevelt, Canyon, Saguaro, and Pleasant;                                                                                  spice it up. Place any leftovers in a plastic
the countless streams and ponds in the                                                                                     bag and refrigerate or freeze them immedi-




                                                                                                         GEORGE ANDREJKO
                                                                                                                           ately for later use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ugh and Yum!
                           Tonto, Coconino,
                           and Apache-
                           Sitgreaves National                                                                             For additional information about crayfish in
Crayfish tail              forests; and the      Connoisseurs of crayfish say it tastes best dipped in
                                                                                                                           Arizona, visit the Arizona Game and Fish
                           Colorado River.                                                                                 Department’s Web site at azgfd.com or contact
                                                 butter with a squeeze of lemon.
and claw                   Many waters that                                                                                the Fisheries Branch at 602-789-3257, the
                           support sport fish                                                                              Nongame Branch at 602-789-3500, or check                                         Whether you call them
meat can be                                      off the head with wire cutters or tin snips.                              with your nearest Regional office.
                           also contain cray-
                           fish. Ask your
                                                 They can also be killed by covering them                                                                                                                   crayfish, crawfish,
substituted in angling friends                   with ice or boiling them briefly in water.
                           about their favor-
                                                 Regardless of the method you use, the car-                                                                                                                 crawdads, or aquatic
many seafood ite sites or check                  cass or meat should be treated like raw
                                                 seafood and kept cold and clean at all times.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            cockroaches, those little
                           with the
recipes.                   Department’s Re-
                                                    Cooking crayfish is easy whether you are
                                                 at home in your kitchen, streamside, or
                                                                                                                                                                                                            freshwater invertebrates
                           gional offices for
tips on finding your own special crayfish
                                                 lakeside. To cook them outdoors, all you
                                                 need is some clean water, a propane stove,
                                                                                                                              Arizona Game and Fish Department
                                                                                                                                             2221 W. Greenway Road
                                                                                                                                                                                                            that look like miniature
fishing hole.
                                                 and a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Be-                                                 Phoenix, AZ 85023
                                                                                                                                                 (602) 942-3000
                                                                                                                                                                                                            lobsters have become a
Taking Your Crayfish Home                        fore you boil your crayfish, rinse off any
You can catch and take home unlimited
                                                 debris or mud with fresh water. Some cray-                                                        azgfd.com                                                significant pest in many
                                                 fish connoisseurs prefer to “purge” their
numbers of crayfish 365 days of the year.
But remember, only dead crayfish can be
                                                 catch first. Purging cleans out the “vein,”                                                                                                                parts of Arizona.
                                                 otherwise known as the intestine. However,                                The Arizona Game and Fish Department prohibits discrimination on
legally transported away from the site where                                                                               the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, or disability in its pro-
                                                 as with shrimp, the vein is easily removed                                grams and activities. If anyone believes that they have been discriminated
captured (see the Arizona Fishing Regula-                                                                                  against in any of the AGFD’s programs or activities, including its em-
                                                 before or after cooking. If you want to try
tions for current rules). Crayfish can be                                                                                  ployment practices, the individual may file a complaint alleging
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Arizona Game and
                                                 purging your catch, add a half cup of salt or                             discrimination directly with the AGFD Deputy Director, 2221 W. Greenway
killed quickly by thrusting a sharp knife                                                                                  Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85023, (602) 942-3000 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser-

between their head and thorax, or cutting
                                                 vinegar to a bucket of clean water, mix well,                             vice, 4040 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 130, Arlington, VA 22203. If you require
                                                                                                                           this document in an alternative format, please contact the AGFD Deputy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fish Department
                                                 then add the crayfish. After 30 minutes or                                Director as listed above or by calling TTY at 1-800-367-8939. 08/03

				
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