Page last updated at 08:54 GMT, Thursday, 24 December 2009

More than a million 'alien' crayfish caught in loch

American signal crayfish
More than a million of the crayfish have been captured

A project to capture American signal crayfish on a Scottish loch has caught more than a million of the creatures.

The pilot scheme at Loch Ken in Dumfries and Galloway was part of research into the impact the non-native species was having on marine life.

The Scottish government financed the project, which started in the summer and ended in October.

The signal crayfish has been blamed for eating young fish and destroying their habitat.

A business case is now being prepared to seek further funding to undertake a three-year study in the loch, which will involve more trapping.

First recorded

However, according to a report by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, it is unlikely that all the creatures can be removed by trapping.

In the longer-term the focus will be on reducing their numbers to a manageable level.

The signal crayfish was introduced to waters in England and Wales through fish farms about 20 years ago.

In Scotland, they were first recorded in the catchment of the River Dee in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1995.

Since then, specimens have been found in Scottish ponds, rivers and lochs as far north as Inverness-shire.

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