An officer checking two fishermen's fishing license compliance.

Photographer: Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Crayfish are not federally regulated in either Canada or the United States. However, crayfish are regulated in each of the Great Lakes states and provinces,  and these regulations vary widely.

Additional resources regarding regulations pertaining to crayfishes and other aquatic invasive species can be found on Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Aquatic Invaders in the Marketplace website.


It is a violation of state law to import, possess, sell or use as bait live rusty crayfish (Faxonius rusticus). However, dead rusty crayfish (and any other species not threatened or endangered) may be used as bait. Any crayfishes collected live may not be transported to different bodies of water.


Photographer: Hari Seldon (GFDL)

Crayfishes may be collected from public water with a valid sport fishing license. Crayfishes collected form public water cannot be sold. No more than 100 crayfishes may be transported across state boundaries within any 24-hour period, unless being sold commercially.

Importation or sale of crayfishes requires an Indiana Bate Dealer’s License


Crayfish species not native to Michigan waters, which include (but are not limited to) red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and rusty crayfish (Faxonius rusticus), may not be used for bait, whether alive or dead, on any waters of the state, public or private. Native crayfish species may be harvested and used for bait in waters where fishing is permitted, with the exception of the Michigan-Wisconsin Boundary Waters. It is unlawful to commercially take, possess, or sell rusty crayfish in Michigan.


Photographer: Paul Skawinski, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point (UWSP)

It is unlawful (a misdemeanor) to possess, import, purchase, transport, or introduce red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), except under a permit for disposal, control, research, or education. Rusty crayfish (Faxonius rusticus) are regulated such that the introduction or release of these animals into waters of the state is prohibited without a permit. Further, the transportation of live native and invasive crayfishes from one waterbody to another within the state is prohibited, except by permit. Live crayfishes or crayfish eggs may not be imported without a permit. Live crayfishes may not be sold for live bait or for use in aquariums. Live crayfishes taken from a waterbody can only be used as bait in that same waterbody.

New York

Rusty crayfish (Faxonius rusticus) may not be purchased and/or transported to a water body for use as bait or to be released. Additionally, rusty crayfish may not be transported away from or within a water body.


It is legal to collect and use crayfishes as bait for fishing, although no one person can have in their possession more than 100 crayfishes at any given time. Any person wishing to have in their possession more than 100 crayfishes must obtain a valid Bait Dealer/Collector permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. No information specific to invasive crayfishes.


Photographer: Wayne National Forest (CC BY 2.0)

Crayfishes may be collected for use as fishing bait, but they cannot be purchased. Any one person with a fishing license can have no more than 36 crayfishes in their possession. Crayfishes must be used in the same water body where caught, and they may not be transported overland. It is also illegal to transport any crayfishes into Ontario for use as bait.


It is unlawful to possess, introduce, import, transport, sell, or purchase rusty crayfish (Faxonius rusticus) in Pennsylvania. Other species may be used as bait, but the head must be immediately removed unless being used as bait in the water from which the crayfishes were taken. Except when used as bait as described above, the introduction of live crayfishes (any species) into the waters of Pennsylvania is prohibited. No crayfish species are permitted to be cultured under open-system propagation, although propagation is still allowed in closed systems.


The possession and use of live baitfish (including crayfishes) is prohibited in Quebec.


No person may use or possess live crayfishes and angling equipment simultaneously on any inland water except the Mississippi River. Any non-indigenous crayfish species must be killed immediately. It is illegal to possess, introduce, transport, or transfer a live non-indigenous crayfishes without a permit issued by the DNR, except rusty crayfish when being used as bait on the Mississippi River only. Selling crayfishes in Wisconsin requires a bait dealer’s license.

Note—state and federal regulations and statutes presented in this website are provided as informational summaries only and should not be viewed as the entire regulation or statute, modifications of regulations or statutes, binding interpretations, or legal advice. For confirmation and further explanation of specific regulations, contact the appropriate state or federal agency directly or consult with an attorney.