The DNR is working swiftly to curtail what is now a clear growing population of invasive carp in the Mississippi River in southeast Minnesota.
Last weekend, two commercial fishing operators working with the DNR captured 51 invasive carp near La Crosse and Trempealeau, Wisconsin, in the Mississippi River that separates western Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota.
"The location where these fish were caught is commonly netted because of concentrations of commercially valuable fish,” said DNR invasive carp field lead Ben Larson. “This is the largest congregation of invasive carp we’ve seen this far upstream."
A large-scale netting operation is in the works as the DNR partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Service and the Wisconsin DNR to study all captured carp, in addition to increased monitoring of the river.
Of the 51 invasive fish, 40 were silver carp and 11 were grass carp.
The DNR suspects the large number of invasive carp is due to high water levels in the Mississippi since last summer. With high water levels, gates at the locks and dams along the river are kept open, making it easier for fish to travel upstream.
Invasive carp are bad news
Bighead carp and other invasive carp (commonly called Asian carp) have been moving up the Mississippi River since one first escaped into the river in the 1970s. They've been caught in the Mississippi River near the Twin Cities, the St. Croix River and the Minnesota River in recent years.
Invasive carp are bad news because they pose a threat to rivers and lakes. They compete with native fish for food and space, effectively pushing native species out, the National Park Service says. They're also thought to lower the quality of water in lakes and rivers, which can kill off things like freshwater mussels.
If you catch an invasive carp, report it to the DNR right away. You can call 651-587-2781 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also take a photo of the fish and bring it to the nearest fisheries office or have the DNR come pick it up.
For more information on invasive carp and other invasive species in Minnesota, as well as the DNR's efforts to stop the spread of them, click here.