Endangered UK crayfish released into the wild at secret river site in Hampshire - Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

© Linda Pitkin_2020VISION
© Linda Pitkin_2020VISION

Conservationists successfully release almost 200 white-clawed crayfish to boost wild populations of the rare native species

Conservationists have released almost 200 white-clawed crayfish – one of the UK’s most endangered native species – into the wild to help boost the rare crustacean’s dwindling numbers.

Experts from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Bristol Zoological Society released the crayfish into a safe section of the River Itchen’s upper reaches in a coordinated effort to safeguard the species’ future.

The crustaceans, which are the UK’s only native freshwater crayfish species, had been reared from eggs by the Bristol Zoological Society, to ensure they had a good chance of survival when released into the wild.

Altogether, 192 crayfish were released in time for the breeding season.

Despite once being common and widespread in British rivers and stream, white-clawed crayfish numbers have declined dramatically by at least 70% across the UK since the 1970s. This decline has been even more severe in Hampshire.

They are currently threatened with extinction due to pollution, habitat loss and, most prominently, the spread of invasive crayfish species, such as North American signal crayfish, which carry crayfish plague, a disease that is deadly to our native species.

The release forms part of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s Southern Chalkstreams Project, which aims to protect chalk stream habitats and the species that call them home, especially white-clawed crayfish.

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Posted On: 27/10/2022

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