Bristol

Bristol Zoo releases white-clawed crayfish into wild

White-clawed crayfish
Image caption Captive born white-clawed crayfish young will be released into a lake to boost native numbers

White-clawed crayfish will be released into the wild as part of ongoing conservation work led by Bristol Zoo.

About 150 of the young crayfish, reared from eggs, are to be placed in Fernhill Farm Lake in Compton Martin to boost the wild population.

The white-clawed crayfish is the only species of crayfish native to the UK.

Its numbers declined after the introduction of American signal crayfish that carry a fungal-like disease, known as crayfish plague.

Image copyright Environment Agency
Image caption The native white-clawed crayfish (l) is being "out-competed" by the American signal crayfish (r)

The year-long project involved collecting nine egg laden females from a Bristol and north east Somerset river and rearing the youngsters in captivity.

Another 40 captive born white-clawed crayfish will go into two tanks at Ubley hatchery, which is owned by Bristol Water.

Jen Nightingale, UK conservation manager at Bristol Zoo, said the release will be "very significant" for white-clawed crayfish conservation.

Fernhill Farm Lake will be the first fully captive born, white-clawed crayfish ark site, established by Bristol Zoological Society.

Previously the conservation programme has released white-clawed crayfish into rivers in North Somerset.

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