Minnesota DNR taking aggressive action on invasive carp

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is taking further action following the capture of 34 silver carp in Pool 8 of the Mississippi River near La Crosse, Wis. during a recent Modified Unified Method operation.

Next steps include increased commercial netting operations, tracking tagged carp, and perhaps another Modified Unified Method operation in the Mississippi River.

The USGS-developed Modified Unified Method combines netting and herding techniques to drive and concentrate invasive carp from a large area of water into a small zone for removal. Thirty-one silver carp were captured during the five-day operation earlier this month and three more were captured during follow-up work.

“This innovative multi-agency approach was the first time the Modified Unified Method was used anywhere as an early detection and rapid response technique,” DNR invasive species program supervisor Heidi Wolf said. “It worked so well that we’re already talking about perhaps doing this again next year.”

The Mississippi River in Minnesota has healthy populations of native fish and the removal of invasive carp helps to protect those native populations. Any native fish that were incidentally caught in the carp collection efforts were immediately released.

The DNR also continues to track several invasive carp that were previously captured in the Mississippi River, fitted with tracking devices and returned to the river to learn more about their movements and habits. The agency maintains working relationships with commercial fishing operations that assist in the monitoring and detection of invasive carp in the Mississippi River.

Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River in Arkansas in the 1970s. These large fish compete with native species and pose a threat to rivers and lakes. No spawning populations have been detected in Minnesota waters to date.

Individual invasive carp have been caught as far upstream as Pool 2 of the Mississippi, near the Twin Cities (bighead, grass, and silver), the King Power Plant on the St. Croix River by Oak Park Heights (bighead), and just downstream of Granite Falls in the Minnesota River (bighead).

The DNR is actively engaged with several other prevention efforts:

The DNR is an active partner in the Upper Mississippi River Invasive Carp Workgroup. The group includes representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and several federal agencies.
In partnership with the DNR, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the University of Minnesota is testing and evaluating carp deterrents in Mississippi River locks and dams.
The DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division leads a program to monitor fish population changes and impacts of management actions.
The DNR is designing a process to work closely with stakeholders on updating the Minnesota Invasive Carp Action Plan.
The DNR is helping to plan an upcoming statewide Invasive Carp Forum hosted by the Stop Carp Coalition.

State funding sources, including the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund and Outdoor Heritage Fund, have provided key funding for deterrent actions and the DNR invasive carp detection and response program.

Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately by calling 651-587-2781 or emailing invasivecarp.dnr@state.mn.us. Take a photo and transport the carp to the nearest DNR fisheries office or make arrangements for it to be picked up by a DNR official. Do not release captured invasive carp. A permit can be requested to keep captured invasive carp for personal use.