(WFRV) – The conclusion of a multi-year law enforcement investigation related to the illegal distribution of more than 960 invasive crayfish by several wholesale distributors was announced by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Officials say that a number of invasive crayfish were distributed, including red swamp, mini orange, electric blue, and others. Due to the damage these crayfish can cause to native plant and animal populations, the species are illegal to possess in Wisconsin.

The investigation was launched in 2019 after a concerned resident reported a red swamp crayfish for sale in a Milwaukee pet store.

The primary distributor responsible for these illegal crayfish, Apet, Inc., had previously been notified by the DNR. In 2017, Apet, Inc. was found to be delivering an invasive plant and crayfish to a pet store.

Despite being contacted by the DNR two more times, the company reportedly continued to ship more crayfish to pet stores.

“Education and outreach are our primary tools for changing illegal behavior,” said Lt. Warden Robert Stroess, Administrator of the DNR’s Commercial Fish and Aquatic Species in Trade Enforcement Program. “But when that doesn’t work, enforcement is needed.”

Apet, Inc. was found to have delivered 847 invasive crayfish to Wisconsin customers over two years, ending in the middle of 2019.

At the conclusion of the case, there were 147 ‘Transport, Possess or Transfer Invasive Species’ citation convictions.

“I’m hopeful the outcome of this case will deter other wholesale distributors from shipping or delivering to Wisconsin,” Stroess said.