Too many mouths, too few crawfish

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted By Molly Reuter - bio | email

BIG SANDY, TX (KLTV) - We know Easter weekend for the egg hunts and the Easter bunny, but what about crawfish?  An estimated three million pounds will be sold this weekend making the critters with claws popular items on plates across East Texas, but economic and environmental troubles are changing that.

Mud bugs, or mud puppies, crayfish, or crawfish, call them what you want, an estimated three million pounds will be sold over Easter weekend and the bunny may be taking a back seat.

"I drove all the way from Dallas, came down here for shrimp and crawfish," said mud bug fan McGinnis."

"Easter weekend is one of our busiest weekends of the year," said Circle M Crawfish owner Rodney Murphy.  "They need to have two different holy weeks."  He's finding, however, high demand doesn't equal high supply.

"It's been a real tough year, started with the temperatures being awful cold, and it was dry late last summer and then when the hurricane came through and made the crawfish situation worse," said Murphy.  A good day in crawfish season Circle M can expect to sell 2,000 pounds of crawfish right here in East Texas, but due to economic uncertainty and weather problems their supply has been falling by as much as 50 percent.

"Freshwater fish, crayfish do not do good in saltwater systems," said Texas Parks & Wildlife pollution biologist Greg Conley.  "They die."  He adds the cause of the crawfish conundrum is mother nature.

"Hurricane Ike did not rain saltwater, it rained freshwater, but the saltwater intrusion in from the coast is what killed them."  Having already sold more than a thousand pounds since opening this morning, the Circle M crew tries to feed hungry customers despite shrinking supply.

"You know they're doing the best they can on their end, and we're trying to satisfy the people on this end," said Murphy.  A job one man says they're doing pretty well.

"Close your eyes and just taste the juice flowing out," said self proclaimed crawfish aficionado McGinnis.

Neither Murphy, or Conley have a timetable for the shortage.  As for the best solution to the problem, it all depends on mother nature.  Increased rainfall would decrease the salinity of Louisiana freshwaters making prime crawfish areas live able sooner.

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