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Officials worried after 25-pound bighead carp caught in Minnesota River

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Catching a 25-pound fish is normally a cause for celebration, but an angler's haul on the Minnesota River has environmental officials concerned.

Last week, a commercial angler caught the first bighead carp ever found in the Minnesota River, making it only the second invasive carp to be pulled from the river, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

He caught it along a stretch of water near New Ulm, the same area where a grass carp was caught this past December.

This has the DNR concerned about the "potential impacts of invasive carp in the Minnesota River," though it doesn't necessarily mean their population will spread in the waterway.

"We have suspected that bighead carp have occasionally entered the Minnesota River from the Mississippi River, but this is the first confirmed capture," said DNR Invasive Fish Coordinator Nick Frohnauer. "This individual capture does not indicate reproduction or an established population of invasive carp in the Minnesota River."

Large, invasive carp have been proceeding upstream in the Mississippi River since escaping into the river in the 1970s, and the DNR says they compete with native species and "pose a threat to rivers and lakes" as they feed on plankton, aquatic vegetation and mussels.

While no breeding populations have been found in Minnesota, individual fish have been captured in the Mississippi, the St. Croix, and now the Minnesota River. Last year, five bighead carp were caught in the St. Croix.

The DNR is pursuing plans to restrict the arrival of invasive carp to the state.

This includes evaluating the potential for a barrier to prevent the spread in the Minnesota River, as well as providing funding to install deterrents in Mississippi River locks and dams.

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