Michigan adds 7 fish, mussels, other organisms to list of invasive species illegal to possess

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LANSING, Michigan — Seven fish, mussels and other organisms have been added to Michigan's list of forbidden invasive species as part of a region-wide bid to protect aquatic ecosystems in the Great Lakes region, officials said Monday.

The designations, approved by Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh last week, bring to 40 the number of aquatic species that are illegal in the state or can be possessed only under limited circumstances.

The additions include:

—Stone moroko, a member of the minnow family known to carry a parasite that can harm other fish.

—Zander, a close relative of the walleye that would compete with the native species or reproduce with it and create a hybrid.

—Wels catfish, considered a danger to native fish.

—Killer shrimp, an aggressive predator that would prey on a range of invertebrates.

—Yabby, a large crayfish that would harm other crayfish species.

—Golden mussel, which resembles invasive zebra and quagga mussels that have caused widespread economic losses and threatened native biodiversity.

—Red swamp crayfish, which can quickly dominate water bodies and is all but impossible to eradicate.

The DNR also said it was shifting the rusty crayfish from the prohibited list — which makes any possession unlawful — to restricted classification, allowing its use for consumption, fertilizer or trash. The rusty crayfish is already widespread across the state.

"Crayfish trapping is a growing activity in Michigan," said Nick Popoff, the DNR's aquatic species manager. "Allowing our anglers to enjoy some table fare while assisting to remove an invasive species is a win-win."

Aside from the red swamp crayfish, the newly banned species are among 16 that governors of states in the Great Lakes region have labeled the "least wanted" aquatic invaders. Nine already were prohibited in Michigan. The other is the water soldier, a plant native to Europe and northwestern Asia that the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is expected to ban early next year.

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