The Crayfish of Nebraska

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Page 7 of 148

viii PREFACE Unknown to me at the time, my interest in crayfishes began as a kid in the 1950's. We lived on a farm in Knox County, Nebraska, and my brother and I would go down to the crick to go fishing. The "crick" was a small, unnamed tributary in the headwaters of Little Bazile Creek. Even as kids we could easily hop across it so we fished the pool under the county road bridge. While we did, once, catch a fish (a bullhead), most of our "fishing" was for crawdads. We would put a gob of worms or a piece of liver on a hook which would be lowered to the bottom of the pool. After a bit, we would s.l.o.w.l.y lift the hook out of the water to find a crawdad clinging to the bait. After a bit, it would drop off and we'd do it again. (Must have gotten pinched once because I don't remember handling them.) I would imagine a lot of farm kids had the same experience. Now let us fast forward to 1995. I was now a fisheries biologist and had spent a couple of decades collecting fishes from the state's streams. In the course of this work, crayfishes were often collected along with the fish, but most were tossed back with hardly a glance. After a while I began to wonder about those crayfish I kept tossing back. So I began checking around only to find that virtually nothing had been done. One paper published in 1926 and then . . . nothing. Well, here we had a whole group of animals was being ignored and this was not acceptable. So I began collecting and saving those crayfishes and taking them back to the office for identification. In my travels around the state, I would often stop at bridges to take a photograph of the stream for my photo library. I would then see if the stream looked "crayfishy". If it did and I had the time, I would grab the dip net to see if I could collect some. Gradually, over the years, I began to get a more complete picture of the crayfishes of Nebraska. Collecting crayfish, identifying what I had found and storing the information in jars on a shelf and pieces of paper in a file were accomplishing little. These were neat critters and, perhaps, others might be interested in what was here. The result is the book you hold in your hands.

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