Invasive carp have been found in the Mississippi River in the southeastern Twin Cities metro area, the farthest north they have ever been found in the river, the Department of Natural Resources announced Friday.
Commercial fishermen who are under contract with the DNR caught two adult carp in the river near Cottage Grove on Thursday. One was a bighead carp that weighed about 40 pounds, and the other was a silver carp that was about 20 pounds. Silver carp are the ones that jump out of the water when they're disturbed, often by boat motors.
The fish were found in Pool 2, which is the part of the Mississippi River above the dam at Hastings, extending upstream to the Ford Dam in St. Paul. On this map, courtesy of Friends of Pool 2, the fish were likely found south of St. Paul Park.
Bighead and silver carp had not been found this far north in the Mississippi River. Until now, bighead carp had not been detected above the mouth of the St. Croix River near Prescott, Wisconsin, and silver carp had not been found above Pool 5A near Winona.
"That’s concerning," said Brad Parsons, DNR regional fisheries manager, in the news release. "Invasive carp pose a threat to our native fisheries, water recreation and ecosystems."
The agency said both fish that were caught were females that contained eggs.
Parsons said it's unclear how long these fish have been in Pool 2, but he said invasive carp migrate upstream during high water conditions.
"Such conditions existed for many weeks this year," he said.
Parsons said the DNR didn't find any more invasive carp during a search Friday, but he said they'd keep looking for juvenile fish or eggs.
"The next thing that we're really concerned about is a reproducing population," Parsons told MPR News. "We still have no signs of that."
The DNR will continue its intensive carp sampling efforts next week to try to determine if more of the carp are in the Grey Cloud Slough area, said the Star Tribune.
Silver and bighead carp can grow to 60 pounds and can crowd out native fish by eating large amounts of plankton, which is also a food source for native species of fish.
Congress recently passed legislation to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock in Minneapolis by June of next year, which the DNR said is the best way to keep invasive carp from spreading farther north to Minnesota's most popular fishing areas, according to MPR News.