(COLORADO) — Crayfish, crawfish, crawdads, or mudbugs – whatever you may call them – they’re illegal to import into Colorado, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW).

  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife considers changing crayfish importation laws
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife considers changing crayfish importation laws

CPW recently became aware of a large market for live Red Swamp Crayfish – the most preferred species of crayfish for human consumption. However, the majority of crayfish types are not allowed to be imported, but they have been for many years and possibly even decades without CPW knowledge.

“People just weren’t aware that what they were doing was illegal and we discovered… how much people really cared about having crawfish boils, get-togethers, family events… it’s a big part of people’s culture,” stated Joey Livingston, CPW’s Statewide Public Information Officer.

Now CPW is considering changes to current regulations after many businesses and private citizens came forward in favor of importing live Red Swamp Crayfish – changes communities across the state hope will be implemented after CPW’s commission meeting in November and before the start of crayfish season, which lasts from January to March.

New laws would require crayfish importers to have a permit and proof of where they are importing from, according to CPW. Additionally, crayfish would not be permitted to be kept alive for more than 72 hours.

  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife considers changing crayfish importation laws

For now, CPW is temporarily pardoning restaurants that are not distributing crayfish to private citizens. However, businesses like Colorado Crawfish Company in Colorado Springs have stopped their delivery services to avoid getting in trouble with the law.

“I didn’t want to risk the fines and the fees or any of our clients receiving any bills… so we just kind of stopped business,” said Lucas Thompson, owner of Colorado Crawfish Company.

Thompson added he’s had to hold off on purchasing a food truck and a brick-and-mortar restaurant since current laws prohibit live imports.

“We stopped selling live. We were catering frozen [crayfish],” said Thompson. “We made sure all our clients knew that… because finding good frozen crawfish is kind of hard to do…”

Frozen crayfish may get grainy if they are one or two seasons old – a reason why the market for crayfish prefers live imports, explained Thompson.

CPW said anyone in violation of the law will risk misdemeanor charges and fines if crayfish are let into a body of water. Additional costs may be required if CPW has to remove any crayfish from that source of water.