DNR seizes, incinerates ton of illegal crawfish

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
Growing from 4 to 7 inches in length, red swamp crawfish are dark red with bright red, raised spots on their claws and a black wedge-shaped tail that is a black or dark blue color underneath.

Some 2,000 pounds of live, red swamp crawfish — illegal in Michigan — were seized at the border near Sarnia in what wildlife officials call the largest aquatic invasive species seizure by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. 

The seizure took place on July 13, when a commercial hauler was denied entry into Canada at the Sarnia border crossing. The hauler was carrying illegal crawfish, which are reputed to "burrow and create shoreline erosion," compete with native crayfish, and take up space in the habitats of native species. Red swamp crawfish, according to a statement from the DNR, are the most widespread invasive crawfish in the world.

Michigan DNR conservation officers seized more than 2,000 pounds of live, illegal red swamp crawfish in 55 bags – the largest aquatic invasive species seizure by the DNR.

Customs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials flagged the hauler. DNR officials stopped it and found 55 bags of the live crawfish.

The crawfish were taken to a lab at Michigan State University, frozen, then incinerated, said Lt. Michael Feagan, who supervises the Lower Peninsula for the DNR Law Enforcement Division's Great Lakes Unit.

Almost two weeks later, officials can't be sure if any of the crawfish were sold in Michigan. The truck did make stops in Maryland and Arkansas for pick-ups, en route to Canada.

The investigation is ongoing, and Feagan said it's not yet certain what legal action will come of the seizure.