December 29, 2008
Breeding Program Helps Endangered British Crayfish
An agenda targeted at overturning the small numbers of the white-clawed crayfish has created 300 young this year alone in the UK.
Natural England, the government's conservatory office, announced that the accomplishment of the breeding plan gave hope to the endangered species.
The white-clawed crayfish is England's most threatened crustacean.
Natural England and the Environment Agency are looking to secure funding and further develop the program, which started in 2003.
The white-clawed crayfish once thrived in rivers and streams but is decimated by its aggressive cousin, the American crayfish.
The American species, originally brought to England for farming purposes, carries a "plague" which is deadly to the native crustacean.
The breeding project started in 2003 by fencing in the English crayfish to defend them from the disease and aggression from the American crayfish to a vigorous breeding plan.
Natural England wants to enlarge the program to create a minimum of 500 white-clawed crayfish annually, released upon achieving sexual maturity.
Dr Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, stated: "The news that white-clawed crayfish are breeding in increasing numbers in the Yorkshire Dales is extremely encouraging and shows that targeted conservation work can make a real impact."
"The species has been all but wiped out following the introduction of its American cousin, but the success of this project gives grounds for hoping that extinction is by no means inevitable," she added.
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