Ghost crabs are among the most important wildland wildlife species in the Pacific Northwest.
But when you consider how many have been lost in recent years and how many species have gone extinct, they may not be the only ones left.
The ghost crab may be the last wildland animal that remains, said Rick Davis, director of the Oregon Wildlife Commission’s Marine Mammal Research Center, a state-owned marine research facility.
And it is the most endangered species in Oregon.
It’s a problem that is especially acute in Oregon’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, which has seen a sharp increase in the number of reported ghost crabs.
In late January, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists reported the first reported sighting of a ghost in Oregon, Davis said.
The agency is asking people to call the department’s toll-free number at 1-800-869-7990 if they see a ghost and report it.
The toll-to-call number is 1-888-734-8333.
Wildlife biologist Tom Trombetta of the Fish and Game Conservation Council said that since the crab was spotted, more than 30 ghost crabs have been discovered.
Trombette said he hopes to find more.
He has heard about several ghost crabs that have been seen near the Ghost Recon Wilderness Reserve, a 4.2-mile stretch of the Columbia River that connects Oregon’s Columbia Gorge and the Willamette Valley, but said they are rare.
Tormbetta said the ghost crab that was found near the reserve is about the size of a walnut, and it could weigh as much as 20 pounds.
Trombo said the crab is a common species that lives on the Columbia and the Columbia Gorge rivers.
Wilderness ranger Ryan Ruggles of the Cascade Range National Park said the only thing that makes ghost crabs so dangerous is when people try to catch them.
They’re very hard to spot, he said.
The only way to know if you’re seeing a ghost is to follow the crab closely, Ruggs said.
But he also said people should be cautious when they are out in the wild, noting that a ghost could be just a small part of a larger crab.
Ruggles said ghost crabs are not uncommon, but he added that they should be careful because they can be dangerous.
If you see one, he advised, don’t try to take it.
Rescue crews are hoping to recover the crab before it’s too late, Davis of the Wildlife Commission said.
But a person should be aware of their surroundings and take precautions, Trombone said.
A Ghost Recon wildlands ranger at the reserve, Dave Williams, said that if people see a dead ghost crab or other wildland creature, they should call the park immediately.
He said people can call the agency’s toll free number at 800-874-9155 if they’re unsure.