Good enough to eat, maybe

Program intended to highlight Milwaukee River ecosystem inspires crew of crayfish catchers to hunt invasive species, then feast on them

A LITTLE UNSURE ABOUT whether to eat it or not, Brooklynn Guerrero-Risse of Saukville (right) eyed a rusty crayfish suspiciously during a crayfish boil and potluck dinner at Riveredge Nature Center in the Town of Saukville. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

The Riveredge Nature Center’s Community Rivers Program continued this past weekend with a crayfish catch, boil and potluck.

More than 20 people attended, about half of whom helped catch around 50 rusty crayfish, an invasive species, along the Milwaukee River where it flows through the nature center north of Newburg.

Then the group returned to the nature center’s barn where a crayfish boil was held and served along with corn, potatoes and other foods.

The crayfish caught were not those that were served at dinner, by the way, said Family and Community Programs Manager Cassie Bauer, who led the event. Those served were caught last year and frozen, as will be those that were caught this year, she said.

Matt Smith, Riveredge’s land manager, boiled up the crayfish, shrimp, corn and potatoes, all with a bit of Louisiana spice added to it. 

The community meal was open to Newburg and Saukville residents and was part of an ongoing effort to connect people in those communities and in Grafton to the Milwaukee River and its ecology.

Past events have included river clean-up days, kayak and canoe excursion, family fishing events and town hall meetings. 

Rusty crayfish are native to the Ohio River valley and to states there such as Ohio and Kentucky. In recent years they have invaded Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Ontario, and portions of 17 other states. They are likely spread by anglers who use them as bait and bring them into this area.

They displace native crayfish, reduce the amount and kinds of aquatic plants, decrease the density and variety of invertebrate animals and reduce some fish populations. Environmentally sound ways to eradicate rusty crayfish have not been developed.

Upcoming Community Rivers events include:

ν Stormdrain Stenciling from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 in Grafton.

ν Prairie Planting Day at Francis Falkner Park, Newburg, from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 6.

For more information on these or other Community Rivers Program events, call 262-375-2715 or go online to www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/communityrivers.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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