Invasive Crayfish Not Welcome In Malibu

MALIBU—An ongoing campaign to boot a species of invasive crayfish from Malibu Creek continued on Saturday, April 4 as volunteers took to the watershed to pluck the temperamental creatures from their habitat.

Wire mesh traps were employed in the extraction of the crayfish from the creek, as groups of local students and biologists from Malibu’s Pepperdine University worked to purge a 600-yard stretch of Madea Creek.

This species of invasive, non-native crayfish, have contributed to the decimation of local steelhead trout populations. (Photo courtesy of the Twitter account of Irfan Khan)

Employing 400 traps equipped with chicken-flavored dog food, the crayfish were extracted from the creek bed and placed into buckets. Following extraction, the critters were transported to the California Wildlife Center, where they are to become sustenance for a population of possums and raccoons.

The group responsible for the campaign, the Mountains Restoration Trust, has received a $600,000 grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to assist in their efforts.

The goal in eliminating the three-inch critters from the 109-square-mile Malibu Creek watershed is a move towards a more balanced ecosystem, one in which the endangered steelhead may once again populate the region.

To date, an estimated 500 Southern California steelhead remain alive, a population that is scattered paper-thin across the local coastline. In addition to human-related habit degradation and water quality problems, the presence of non-native marine life has been cited as one of the leading causes of the species’ alarming decimation.

Since 2014, the Mountains Restoration Trust has used this technique to remove an estimated 44,000 crayfish from the habitat. For the organization, a good day constitutes removing 600 crayfish from the watershed.

It is their hope that by 2018, the species will be entirely gone from the region, allowing not only steelhead, but other local species of newts and insects to return to normal population levels.