This cute little critter is an impending ecological disaster
I saw this on a recent trip to Jamaica State Park in southern Vermont. I am not sure what species it is, but it looks very similar to the infamous Rusty Crayfish, native of the Ohio River Valley. This little guy looks harmless but is stirring up some serious silt in the rivers of Vermont and New Hampshire.
According to Northern Woodlands Magazine:
"The rusty crayfish, Orconectes rusticus, has hitchhiked as far as Ontario, New Mexico, and Maryland, and is now found in more than a dozen states, including every New England state but Rhode Island. Having first been recorded in Vermont in the 1970s, Matthews says that it is now “widely distributed in the Connecticut River and its tributaries and is dominant in the White River.” It is also found in Lake Morey in Fairlee and in Lake Carmi in northwestern Vermont.
“Only three species of crayfish are native to Vermont,” says Matthews, “but another five species have been introduced. In 2010, for the first time, the big water crayfish (Cambarus robustus) appeared in the White River. This crayfish species appears to have been introduced very recently, which suggests that people are still moving crayfish around and releasing them in the water. Therefore, the threat of the spread of rusty crayfish, as well as potential for other invasive introductions, continues to be high.”
Once a plant or animal is removed from its indigenous habitat and dropped into a new environment, it escapes the normal checks that keep it in balance with its surroundings. Most such species don’t survive in the new location, but those that do can create an ensuing “invasion” whose effects range from a slightly skewed food chain to the complete elimination of some native species.”
For more info see the article: