River Allen crayfish plague outbreak appeal

Dead white-clawed crayfish Image copyright Dorset Wildlife Trust
Image caption Dead white-clawed crayfish have been found in the River Allen

An appeal has been launched to safeguard one of the last remaining white-clawed crayfish habitats after the outbreak of a killer disease.

More than 100 of the rare native crayfish species have so far died as a result of crayfish plague on Dorset's River Allen.

The disease, carried by non-native American signal crayfish, was first discovered on the river in July.

Dorset Wildlife Trust has launched a £33,000 river restoration work appeal.

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

The trust said the cash would bolster a £60,000 project set up in 2013 to help native crayfish thrive on the river.

The Environment Agency has urged anglers to disinfect their fishing tackle and clothing to try to prevent its spread.

It is not clear how the fungal infection reached the River Allen but it can be spread on damp equipment that has come from water containing signal crayfish.

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