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Juvenile Black Carp Discovered in Western Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A juvenile black carp has been discovered in Ballard County, according to the Fisheries Division of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The fish, a member of the invasive Asian carp species, came from Gar Creek near the Ohio River.

“Assuming this fish was spawned locally, it provides further evidence that black carp are becoming more established in the lower Ohio River drainage in Kentucky,” said Fisheries Biologist Matt Thomas. “The specimen was verified as a black carp by experts at the U.S. Geological Survey Environmental Research Center.”

Black carp are native to Asia and look similar to grass carp. They first came to the United States in the 1970s accidentally mixed in with imported grass carp. Black carp cause serious concern because they feed on native snails and mussels. They are part of a group of Asian carp that pose a threat to native fisheries.

“Black carp can be potentially devastating to freshwater mussel populations,” said Sunni Carr, wildlife diversity coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Our department is working to restore sensitive mussel populations in big rivers such as the Ohio and Mississippi. Mussels do not move, so they are very vulnerable to predation by black carp.”

Black carp first showed up in western Kentucky in 2016 based on two fish captured from the Minor Slough system in Ballard County. Other documented reports in 2017 and 2018 found black carp at the Ohio and Mississippi River confluence, the lower Ohio River, Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. These individuals ranged from 17 to 44 inches long.

Officials in 2007 added black carp to the list of injurious wildlife species under the federal Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to import, export, sell, acquire or purchase the fish anywhere in the United States.

For more information about Asian carp in Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov and search under the keywords, “Asian carp.”

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