The lampreys are primitive eel-like fishes which differ from true fishes in the absence of jaws and paired fins and the presence of gill pockets rather than regular gills. The Chestnut Lamprey has a round, sucking-disk mouth, a keel-like rayless fin along the back and around the tip of the tail. Growing to a length of 14 inches, Chestnut Lampreys are gray to greenish-gray in color with a pale belly.
The Chestnut Lamprey is currently known to occur occasionally in the lower Kansas River and may occur in the Missouri River main stem. It may have formerly occurred in larger rivers throughout eastern Kansas. These lampreys are parasitic in their adult stage, preying on large fish such as carp and buffalo. Spawning occurs in smaller tributary streams in swift shallow riffles where the gravel is clean. The larvae remain in bottom sediments of pools, feeding on microorganisms, for several years before reaching maturity.
Chestnut Lampreys are protected by the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act and administrative regulations applicable thereto. Any time an eligible project is proposed that will impact the species’ preferred habitats within its probable range, the project sponsor must contact the Ecological Services Section, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism 512 SE 25th Ave., Pratt, Kansas 67124-8174. Department personnel can then advise the project sponsor on permit requirements.DESIGNATED CRITICAL HABITATS
As defined by Kansas Administrative Regulations, critical habitats include those areas documented as currently supporting self-sustaining population(s) of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife as well as those areas determined by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to be essential for the conservation of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife.
Currently, the following areas are designated critical habitat for Chestnut Lampreys:
All reaches of the main stem Missouri River that are congruent with the Kansas-Missouri border.