cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
The battle of the Red Swamp Crayfish continues with the DNR and UW providing information and educated people to guide this process. Some 1,200 to 1,500 have now been caught, and the females caught recently are carrying eggs. In addition, some young crayfish are being caught in the 120 or so live traps that are scattered along the pond shoreline in Esquire Estates.
Saturday morning saw new reinforcements arrive with the task of erecting a barrier that stands about 30 inches tall and which is anchored to wooden stakes placed every 6 to 8 feet along the shoreline. The materials were funded by the DNR and the bulk of the labor was provided by some 25 Esquire Estates residents. Since the DNR has advised us that we'll be responsible for 25% of whatever costs are realized, the labor we provided will be taken from that "bill".
Since this is an invasive species, and since this is the first incursion in Wisconsin, we who live in Esquire Estates find ourselves in sort of a 'guinea pig' capacity. This is a southern creature, so there is not much in the way of 'lessons learned' in northern climes. There is, therefore, no reasonable way for the DNR to provide us with a firm action plan nor can it tell us what the ultimate cost will be for each property owner.
The current plan, revision 2, has the barrier erected to keep the rascals away from other areas (that has worked, so far). The DNR has discarded the potential use of a chrysanthemum-derived poison and the chemical of choice now seems to be chlorine. That will kill virtually everything in the pond and that means the turtles, the small fish that exist and the frogs, etc.
This is to be followed by the DNR pumping down the level of this pond by 4 feet. It is a 6 acre pond that now holds on the order of 16 to 17 million gallons of water. Four feet will equate to the removal of something on the order of 7 million gallons of water. Parts of the pond will be dry when that happens. The idea is for the winter freeze to hit the burrows where these 'little lobsters' live so they can be eradicated by freezing.
The pond used to have a spring feeding it but that went away when Mequon Road was widened to four lanes. The residents received permission to drill a well at their expense and to pump something around 50 gallons per minute during the summer months to offset evaporation. My belief is that many years will pass before the natural water received in the form of rain and snow melt will be sufficient to reconstitute the pond. If we were to have to buy the water to refill the pond, the estimate I get from the Internet suggests that we'd pay at least 4 cents per gallon, and maybe more. You can do the math; it would cost us some $300,000 to buy the water. That would come to nearly $4,000 per property owner, and that "ain't chump change" in todays' economic climate especially with taxes and fees rising quickly at all levels.
The DNR, so far, is ignoring that problem to our chagrin. We didn't cause the problem; we inherited it because someone dumped their bait or their aquarium pets or the live remains of a crayfish boil into the pond. The game wardens in southeast Wisconsin are trying to determine how and by whom the crayfish were dropped on our doorsteps, but that is probably more difficult than finding the needle in the haystack.
So, the battle at Camp Crayfish enters a new phase. The individual DNR people have all been great with whom to work, but there is that nagging DNR institutional DNA thread that keeps us awake at night.
More dispatches from 'the front' will follow as the situation requires updating.