Invasive Species and Your Classroom
Classroom exposure to animals and plants, living and preserved, provides students with valuable knowledge and connection with the natural world. For some students, science courses may be their only opportunities to interact with certain organisms. Unfortunately, release of classroom organisms is also one of the known pathways for invasive species introductions. As you know, crayfish are commonly used in classroom lessons and historically, there was a national curricula that involved releasing classroom crayfish into the environment. The invasive species program at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is working to improve its communication to schools regarding invasive species. You can play an important role in protecting Minnesota waters. The following describes important information about invasive species regulations that you should be aware of.
- There are some invasive species that are illegal to possess, import, purchase, sell, propagate, transport or introduce to a free-living state in Minnesota without a permit. This applies whether these “prohibited invasive species” are alive or dead. Please periodically check the DNR’s invasive species laws page for a complete species list. There are two prohibited invasive crayfish and one proposed prohibited invasive crayfish, pictured below. Because crayfish identification is very difficult and all three species are available in the biological supply and aquarium trades, we recommend asking the seller for the scientific name of the crayfish prior to purchasing them. You may use preserved specimens of red swamp crayfish by following the conditions outlined in the general permit on this webpage. Additional species to avoid include state and federal noxious weeds and federally-listed injurious wildlife.
- Live crayfish or crayfish eggs of any species are illegal to import into Minnesota without a permit. There is currently no legal mechanism for permitting importation of live crayfish for classroom use. As an alternative, live crayfish can be purchased from a licensed aquaculture facility in Minnesota. If you would like information on the aquaculture businesses raising native crayfish, the list of licensed private aquaculture hatcheries is available for a small fee through the Department of Administration. You can call or email them to request the list (651-201-3206, email@example.com).
- It is generally illegal to release non-native organisms into the environment. Please visit our responsible consumers webpage for information, including alternatives to releasing animals and plants into the environment when they can no longer be cared for or are no longer wanted.
Red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii). Prohibited. Photo: Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center
Yabby crayfish (Cherax destructor). Prohibited.
Marbled crayfish (P. virginalis or P. fallax forma virginalis). Proposed prohibited.
Your participation is a vital component of successful invasive species prevention in Minnesota. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions about Minnesota’s invasive species regulations, please contact the DNR’s invasive species program (Chelsey Blanke, firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-259-5350).