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Invasive Bighead Carp Caught In Minnesota River

Feb 25, 2016 03:46 PM EST

A bighead carp was recently captured in the Minnesota River by a commercial angler near New Ulm. The state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says the carp's presence raises concern about potential effects of invasive fish in Minnesota's waterways. 

Experts say the 25-pound male fish is the first bighead carp and second invasive carp confirmed in the Minnesota River. A grass carp was caught in the same location in December.

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

Minnesota has been struggling to control the spread of invasive carp since they were found in the Mississippi River in the 1970s. However, these large fish have already invaded Twin Cities, and now it seems they are migrating westward through the Minnesota River. The establishment of bighead carp would pose serious risks to native species, including food competition and increased predation. 

"The DNR is concerned about the potential impacts of invasive carp in the Minnesota River watershed and has several projects in the works with partners around the state," Frohnauer added. 

For example, the DNR has provided Minnesota State University, Mankato with funding to evaluate the river for barrier potential to prevent the spread of invasive carp. Data collection and analysis has begun, with a final report expected in December 2017.

"While it's disappointing this carp was found," Frohnauer said, "these actions and others are still important and valuable in helping prevent the long-term spread of invasive carp across the state." 

Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. Call 651-587-2781 or email invasivecarp.dnr@state.mn.us.

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