If you are visiting Rouge National Urban Park on the Scarborough-Pickering border, Parks Canada asks that you leave the crayfish where they are.
The red crayfish is an invasive species that looks like a small lobster.
According to Parks Canada, the aggressive crustaceans are native to the Ohio River basin and were introduced to Ontario in the 1960s.
As an invasive species, Parks Canada says the ruddy crayfish pose a serious threat to local ecosystems and water bodies.
Compared to crayfish native to Ontario, ruddy crayfish are larger, faster, and reproduce faster.
These characteristics allow rusty crayfish to compete with native species for food and habitat.
Since females can carry hundreds of fertilized eggs under their tails, a single crayfish moved to another body of water could establish a whole new population.
Rusty crayfish have already established themselves in some areas of Rouge National Urban Park, so don’t be surprised if you see one when you visit.
However, it is illegal to remove crayfish from the park, regardless of the reason or destination.
You are also not allowed to move crayfish on land, even inside the park.
If you’re fishing in the park and find yourself with a crayfish in your net, don’t worry.
You are actually allowed to use crayfish as bait, as long as you drop into the same body of water the crayfish come from.
You also can’t keep extra crayfish at the end of the day, even if you plan to use them as bait in the future.
You may notice warning signs around Rouge National Urban Park, telling visitors why rusty crayfish are dangerous and the penalties for removing one.
Since crayfish have been around the park for decades, Parks Canada says they are able to effectively manage their population, as long as they are not allowed to spread.
For more information, click here.
Photos courtesy of Parks Canada