Cook County residents form new business with goal of reducing invasive crayfish in local lakes
Rusty crayfish are abundant in Pike Lake.
And that’s not a good thing.
The unwanted invasive crustaceans are widespread in a number of Cook County lakes, with the clear waters of Pike Lake being ground zero in terms of both abundance and how much they are impacting a local waterbody. Rusty crayfish eat fish eggs, for example, a fact that does not go over well with walleye anglers.
As unwanted as rusty crayfish are, two Cook County residents decided to take this knowledge and turn it into a business. Enter, The Crawdaddies.
Yusef Orest and Garrett Lima started catching rusty crayfish in steel traps in Cook County earlier this summer. More recently, they’ve partnered with the Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District and its aquatic invasive species unit to expand the enterprise.
The Crawdadddies, as their business is known, are now trapping on a commercial scale. They’ve captured hundreds of pounds of the invasive crayfish already this year, Lima said.
“I think our last recorded haul was around 68 pounds,” Lima said. “I think we’re over probably 300 pounds for the year.”
Slowing the spread of rusty crayfish in Pike Lake, or any given waterbody where they are present, is no small task. However, Orest said The Crawdaddies are optimistic that by catching and eventually selling a locally-sourced protein to community members it will make an impact.
“If you can’t beat them, you’ve got to eat them,” Orest said of the local crustaceans.
WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs recently joined The Crawdaddies on a beautiful August evening to set crayfish traps on Pike Lake. He shares a full report in the audio below.