Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 15:48 UK

Man fined for trapping Cumbrian white-clawed crayfish

White-clawed crayfish
The white-clawed crayfish is in danger of being wiped out

A man from Leeds has been ordered to pay £4,000 in fines and costs after trapping and eating a threatened species of crayfish in Cumbria.

Magistrates in Kendal heard salesman Christopher Hemsley, 42, cooked and ate at least 40 white-clawed crayfish from the River Kent at Staveley last year.

The river is one of the last refuges of the crayfish which is under threat from invasive foreign species.

Helmsley admitted contravening the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act.

Invasive pest

The court heard Helmsley caught the crayfish while staying at a caravan with friends in September.

He told staff from the Environment Agency, which brought the prosecution, that he thought he was trapping American signal crayfish.

Helmsley was fined £3,900 and ordered to pay £100 costs.

The American species is an invasive pest and carries the plague responsible for almost wiping out white-clawed crayfish.

Helmsley apologised to the court and said he was "thoroughly embarrassed" at his actions.

Cumbria has Europe's only stronghold population of white-clawed crayfish.

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