Mudpuppies must be returned safely to the water|
Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials today reminded anglers to return to the water any mudpuppy caught while fishing.
DNR Fisheries managers recently investigated several reports that ice anglers in Southeast Michigan have been catching large numbers of mudpuppies and leaving them on the ice to die. While perhaps not the most appealing creatures to look at, these salamanders serve an important role in Michigan's aquatic ecosystem and are protected under state law.
In southeast Michigan, mudpuppies often are caught on Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River.
ďAnglers 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. 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 blotches. For more information on mudpuppies, goto the following link: