Here in Louisiana, it's hard to believe there are states in the U.S. where live crawfish are actually illegal.

Seems like a pretty easy issue to fix, right? Just eat em!

Rasmus Gundorff Saederup via Unsplash
Rasmus Gundorff Saederup via Unsplash

However, when you dig a little deeper into the reasons why some states have passed pretty strict laws against importing, selling, or even possessing live crawfish, it does make sense.

Read More: Purging Crawfish With or Without Salt: LSU AgCenter Study Finds the Answers

But still, just eat em!

Let's take a look at what states live crawfish are illegal in.

Colorado Lifts Ban On Crawfish Boils


Boiled Crawfish
TSM Staff

Believe it or not, up until January of 2024, it was against the law to bring red swamp crawfish into the state of Colorado.

The new law change only applies to bringing crawfish into Colorado and eating them, but it is still illegal to release crawfish into the wild.

Even though Colorado is now onboard, there are still a handful of other states where the live crawfish ban and laws are very much still in effect.

From -

"Under the new rules, anyone who holds the live crawdads needs a special license to import them as well as a receipt or delivery confirmation.

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman said generally that means the business that imports the crayfish will provide a copy of the import permit to the individual purchasing them. (A good recipe is probably handy as well.)"

So, why are some states so afraid of crawfish?

It has to do with natural habitats.

Read More: Apparently, That’s Not Crawfish Fat We’ve Been Eating


Berlin's Main Park Invaded By Louisiana Crawfish
Adam Berry, Getty Images

State Where Crawfish Are Banned And Illegal

Red swamp crawfish are considered to be an invasive species in other states.

Crawfish are capable of causing substantial environmental and structural damage. They can burrow into the soil around dams, irrigation systems, and levees, leading to costly repairs.

In Illinois, it is illegal to import or even be in possession of live red swamp crawfish.

Any person and/or businesses that import, sell or possess live crawfish in the state of Illinois are subject to fines ranging "from a petty offense with a fine of $195 to a Class 3 felony with fines and restitution totaling tens of thousands of dollars" according to

Townsquare Media Photo courtesy of Crawfish Haven
Townsquare Media Photo courtesy of Crawfish Haven

Crawfish are also illegal in Wisconsin.

In fact, in 2022, The Wisconsin Department of Justice charged Louisiana Crawfish Company with 15 criminal counts of intentionally transporting, possessing, or transferring crawfish.

"The court then convicted the company of 10 criminal counts and ordered the company to pay $34,380 in fines, fees and assessments" according to

Sidney Pearce via
Sidney Pearce via


In Minnesota, having crawfish without a permit is a ticketable offense.

Crawfish are considered "a prohibited invasive species in Minnesota, meaning that a person may not possess, import, purchase, sell, propagate, transport or introduce them to a free-living state without a permit" according to

You also have to apply for a permit to import dead, frozen or even already-cooked Louisiana crawfish.

When it comes to Louisiana crawfish, Michigan also says "No Thanks".

Michigan actually has a native species of crawfish, but say "it is crucial that community members keep their eyes out for this dangerous invader!" according to

The state of Michigan prohibits the sale, importation, or possession of live Louisiana red swamp crawfish.

Alaska and Hawaii also prohibit the import, sale, or possession of Louisiana red swamp crawfish.

The good news? That leaves more for us!

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