Could A South American Bird Save the Crawfish Biz in Louisiana?
The wildlife in Louisiana is wilder than most. As if we didn't have our hands full with alligators, snakes, bears, wildcats, and way more native creatures than you can count, we also play unwilling host to a number of foreign species that are classified as "invasive." Those are the critters that make themselves right at home in our state, and damage it in the process. How strange is it now that our latest invasive species may be the key to getting rid of another very damaging species that is also considered invasive? Very strange is the answer, but this one sounds like it just might work in Louisiana's favor.
According to a report from US News and World Report, a semi-aquatic bird called the Limpkin has been spotted making its home here in Louisiana. That would make our state the 3rd in which the South and Central American bird has been found nesting in, marking a dramatic change for the ecosystem. That change could be a positive one, especially for Louisiana crawfish farmers.
The connection here is another invasive species: The Apple Snail. According to a report from NOLA, this foreign mollusk has been devastating crawfish and rice farms across the state - threatening two of the most essential agricultural resources Louisiana has! Biologists believe that the snails were introduced into the ecosystem by people dumping their aquariums into local water supplies setting these vicious snails loose. The slimy creatures are popular for keeping the tank clean, but once they're loose they reign supreme.
Since they have no natural predators in Louisiana, these snails have run rampant on local habitats. Thankfully, the introduction of these Limpkins will bring an un-natural predator into the mix. Reportedly, these crane-like birds love the taste of snails - and "Apple" is their favorite! Currently, a Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary survey is being conducted to get a count on how many of these esteemed guests we have here.
Unfortunately, researchers will have to find a way to help the Limpkins to eradicate the snails as the studies show that the mollusks can reproduce faster than the current known number of Limpkins can gobble them up.