MUDPUPPIES SHOULD BE RETURNED TO WATER, NOT LEFT ON THE ICE|
LANSING--Following reports that large numbers of mudpuppies
have been caught and left on the ice to die, Department of
Natural Resources fisheries managers are urging anglers to
return to the water any mudpuppy caught. Mudpuppies may not
be the most appealing creatures to look at, but serve an
important role in Michigan's aquatic ecosystem.
In southeast Michigan, mudpuppies often are caught on Lake
St. Clair and the Detroit River. "Anglers often leave
mudpuppies on the ice to die, because they think they are
competitors for popular game species and feed on fish--which
is not true--or because they think they are worthless," said
Robert Haas, research biologist at the DNR Mt. Clemens
Research Station. "Their diet consists of crayfish, snails,
insect larvae, worms and some fish eggs, but there is no
evidence they damage fish populations."
If a mudpuppy is caught during the ice-fishing season, the
law requires its release back into the water. Mudpuppies are
actually salamanders, which are protected under state law.
They cannot be taken out of Michigan waters from Nov. 15
through the last Saturday of May. Those caught by anglers
typically are 8-12-inches long.
Mudpuppies are native to North American lakes and streams,
but their populations have been declining severely in recent
decades. They have flattened heads, slimy skin and four legs
with four toes on each foot. They also have bushy, reddish
gills behind their heads. Their color varies, ranging from a
brown to a grayish-brown with scattered dark spots or