State agents raided a “lobster farm” near this rural northern Nevada town, destroying thousands of Australian redclaw crawfish officials said posed a danger to wildlife in the area.
“It looked like the Army moved in here,” Bob Eddy said Thursday as law enforcement officers destroyed the crawfish on his farm about 165 miles south of Reno. “They got a court order.”
Officials with the state Department of Wildlife said the crawfish, which Eddy was selling as freshwater lobsters, could endanger native species if they escaped into the wild.
“It’s our job to make sure these kind of species don’t end up causing even larger problems,” said Chris Healy, department spokesman. “If we allowed this to happen, a few years down the road people would be saying, ‘Why didn’t the Department of Wildlife do its job?’ ”
After years of trying to get Eddy to apply for a permit to run the farm, wildlife officials said they approved his application with requirements he improve the habitat of springfish living around the 80-degree hot spring where he drew water, to record and report sales to the Department of Wildlife and to allow inspections of his operation.
Eddy disputed the department’s authority to regulate his business and ignored those orders, according to a court ruling. His application to renew his permit was denied, and officials said he continued to sell live crawfish.
In March, Washoe County District Judge Steven Elliot gave Eddy until April 22 to get rid of the live crawfish on his property.
On Thursday, Eddy said shutting down his business will deprive him of his income and vowed to keep fighting.
Healy said biologists estimated Eddy had between 200 and 300 pounds of crawfish on his property.
Eddy, 60, raised cattle along U.S. 95 near Mina until he abandoned ranching about eight years ago, saying he was tired of government rules and regulations.
He opened his self-described “lobster farm,” and posted signs nearby reading “Lobster Crossing” and “U812 Lobster Lane.” Business boomed, and last year, Eddy said his crustaceans were fetching $14 a pound.