Crayfish disease found in River Allen in Dorset

Dead white-clawed crayfish
Image caption Dead white-clawed crayfish have been found in the River Allen

A stronghold habitat of the rare native white-clawed crayfish in Dorset has been infected with a killer disease.

Crayfish plague was found to be present in dead crayfish retrieved from the River Allen over the past month.

The disease, carried by non-native American signal crayfish, devastates native populations of the freshwater crustacean.

The Environment Agency is asking anglers to disinfect their tackle and clothing to try to prevent its spread.

'Very sad news'

Until recently the River Allen had been identified as a stronghold of the native species.

A £60,000 project was set up by Dorset Wildlife Trust in 2013 for restoration work on its banks to help native crayfish thrive.

Amanda Broom, from the trust, said the outbreak was "a huge problem and it's very, very sad news for the river".

The fungal infection can be spread on damp equipment that has come from water containing signal crayfish.

It is not clear yet how the disease reached the River Allen.

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