A KILLER shrimp that is threatening to wipe species of British marine life is being hunted in one of the region’s waterways.
Environment Agency officers are carrying out a study in the River Derwent to check if the foreign shrimp has moved this far north.
Although they say it is unlikely to have colonised Yorkshire waters, they are setting traps to find any signs of the creature.
The predator kills a range of native species, such as freshwater invertebrates, particularly native shrimps and even young fish, and can alter the ecology of the habitats it invades.
It often kills its prey and leaves it uneaten. It tends to dominate the habitat, sometimes causing the extinction of native species.
The shrimp, known as Dikerogammarus villosus, was first spotted in the UK last year in Cambridgeshire and sparked a nationwide alert.
They are thought to be transported on angler’s nets, by boats or by fish stocking.
Environment Agency team leader Paul Curry said: “These surveys form part of a national monitoring programme to assess the spread of the killer shrimp. Whilst we are optimistic the shrimp hasn’t come this far north, we have targeted the surveys at the waters we think most likely to contain them if they have.
“We’ll be setting the traps over the next couple of months as we do other work in each of the target areas.
“We’d encourage all anglers, wherever they are fishing, to check, clean and dry their tackle, as that will help stop the spread of invasive species and disease.”
Insects such as damselflies and water boatmen, common sights on British lakes and rivers, could be at risk, with knock-on effects on the species which feed on them.
It has spread across most of Western Europe over the last 10 years. It can be as small as 3mm but may grow up to 30mm long, much larger than our native freshwater shrimp.
To report a suspected sighting of killer shrimp email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Derwent flows through Stamford Bridge, Elvington and Sutton-on-Derwent before reaching East Cottingwith, where it meets with Pocklington Canal.