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Biologists survey invasive crawfish in Kodiak Island lake

KODIAK — A team of biologists is surveying a lake on Kodiak Island for crawfish, an invasive species in Alaska that has been observed in higher frequency over past several years.

The biologists working for the Sun'aq Tribe of Kodiak began the three-year project this spring, analyzing the distribution, movement and diet of crawfish in Buskin Lake, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Monday.

Documentation of the crawfish began in 2002. Evidence appeared in 2015 indicating that the population was breeding, said Kelly Krueger, a biologist for the tribe. Since then, the tribe has been making efforts to study if the population is increasing and if crawfish are affecting native wildlife.

The previous research was conducted under a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs' invasive species program and was largely "to test what measures worked best for catching them," Krueger said.

For the new survey, which is being funded through a $200,000 grant from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the team is examining 30 sites in the lake.

"It's repeated sampling, so we're seeing how many crawfish we catch within this one area and then if it's being repopulated when we come back to the same spot," Krueger said. "We've found the crawfish in areas where we didn't think they would be."

The team dives to the lake spots, often finding the crawfish in sandy or plant-filled areas. They take note of the gender, size and other specifications.

The team will work on the project into the late summer.

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