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Dozens of dead crabs dumped in Patapsco Valley State Park Wednesday

Posted at 7:34 PM, Jul 31, 2019

"Somebody dumped this today," said Jon Merryman pointing out trash on the side of Race Road in Patapsco Valley State Park in Howard County. "Once a month I'll clean up through here with a trash picker, a trash grabber, and pick up the litter, but I've been down in the river for the last 10 years pulling up tires and refrigerators and all kind of crazy stuff!"

On Wednesday morning, Merryman wasn't picking up trash, but when he drove to work through the area a pile of crabs caught his eye.

"I was just driving by this morning when I spotted this," he said walking up to the dead crabs. "I've seen this kind of behavior throughout Patapsco Valley for the past 10 years. I could name five or six places where this is a regular occurrence, but I've never seen this much."

A spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said they were called to the area around 10:45 on Wednesday morning. The spokesperson said a DNR officer found about four bushels of crabs, a mix of male and female, but none that appeared to be undersized.

The dumping is illegal, but DNR said the legality of the females depends on where the crabs came from because "commercial crabbers are permitted to harvest female crabs with varying catch limits."

DNR said they don't know who dumped these crabs.

"I can't imagine a civilian crabber pulling up this many," Merryman said. "If it was a commercial crabber, shame on him."

DNR stated they "have no useful information that can move an investigation forward, so our ability to find the person who dumped the crabs is limited unless we can get help from the public."

If you have any information contact the Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers at 443-433-4112 or by emailing

While WMAR-2 News reporter Erin MacPherson was with Merryman at the state park, a piece of paper was spotted mixed in with the crabs. Merryman grabbed the paper out of the crabs, and it had information on it about a seafood company out of Virginia. MacPherson called and left a voicemail, emailed and notified DNR.

Lee Arnest, the owner of Arnest Seafood, the company discovered on the paperwork found in the crab pile, said his company delivers crabs to two establishments in the Ferndnale area. He said his company did not discard the crabs, supposing possibly someone at one of those establishments or someone else might have dumped the crustaceans.

Regardless of who dumped the crabs, Merryman and many others in the community are frustrated. Merryman shared the picture of the crabs on his Facebook page, and, as of Wednesday evening, it had more than 1,000 shares. Many people had the same feeling as Merryman.

"Just disgust. There's plenty of options for dealing with this," Merryman said. "There's a regular way to dispose of this, not in a state park on the side of the road where it's gonna cause more problems."

Merryman is referencing the smell attracting other animals. There were already plenty of flies and beetles on the crabs Wednesday afternoon.

The other concern is who's going to clean it up?

Merryman said Howard County Highway is usually good about cleaning the area, but since this is a little different, he plans on bagging the crabs to make their job easier.

He urges others to be mindful and clean up after themselves.