Invasive Carp

DNR employee spraying a boat at a courtesy decontamination site

The term "invasive carp" refers to four related fish species: bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), silver carp (H. molitrix), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), and black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus).

Invasive carp captures

Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. Take a photo and make arrangements with the DNR to transport the carp to the nearest fisheries office.

To keep invasive carp for personal use, download the Special Permit to Possess Prohibited Invasive Species of Carp.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been working to slow the spread of invasive carp since the early 2000s. The program uses several key strategies:

  • The DNR leads a program to monitor for all life stages of invasive carp in the Minnesota pools of the Mississippi River, the St. Croix River, the Minnesota River and the Missouri River watershed. This program includes fisheries sampling, tagging and tracking, and partnering with USFWS and USGS on eDNA surveys. It also includes outreach to increase public reporting. This work helps us understand the invasive carp population in Minnesota, target areas for removal efforts, and determine whether reproduction is occurring.
  • The DNR leads a program to remove invasive carp through contracted commercial fishing, DNR-led netting and electrofishing, and innovative new techniques such as fish attractants.
  • The DNR is partnering with USGS and USFWS on population modeling, to attempt to estimate abundance and evaluate management.
  • The DNR is partnering with USGS to determine which locations in Minnesota could support invasive carp reproduction, to inform monitoring and management.
  • The DNR sites, installs and maintains deterrents and barriers to invasive carp movement at critical pinch points to several Minnesota watersheds.
  • The DNR regularly works with neighboring states to share information and coordinate response efforts.
  • 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.

In addition:

  • 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 and serves to provide regional coordination on invasive carp management.
  • Similarly, the DNR is also a member of the Missouri River Invasive Carp Team, Invasive Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, Brandon Road States and Provinces Forum, National Invasive Carp Framework, Black Carp Working Group and other regional, national and binational invasive carp groups.

Invasive carp news

January 2024: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released the updated Invasive Carp Action Plan for the next 10 years of prevention and management efforts in Minnesota. The plan includes a prioritized set of recommended actions that build upon the DNR’s current intensive invasive carp efforts, including additional actions in the categories of:

  • Monitoring invasive carp populations movement to support response actions
  • Prevention and deterrence to limit migration in the state
  • Response preparation to ensure swift actions if invasive carp are found in new locations
  • Management and control strategies to remove fish and minimize populations
  • Outreach, communication and coordination to work with key partners and the public to minimize risk and impacts to the state.

The update of the plan was informed by a planning process that included more than a dozen agencies and organizations involved in preventing the spread of invasive carp. The planning process provided information on Minnesotans’ objectives for invasive carp management, and the expected performance of different suites of management options. See the "Minnesota Invasive Carp Action Plan" section below for a copy of the updated plan.

November-December 2023: The DNR, working with partners, removed a total of 408 invasive carp from Pool 6 of the Mississippi River near Trempealeau, Wisconsin. This is the largest capture of invasive carp that has occurred in Minnesota to date. The capture was made possible by tracking tagged invasive carp, which led agency staff and contracted commercial fishers to them for removal. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracking data led DNR to increase surveillance in this area. At DNR's request, Wisconsin DNR crews surveyed Pool 6 for tagged invasive carp. They located a group of tagged invasive carp, pinpointing a site for Minnesota DNR to deploy commercial seining. Increased reports of invasive carp and data from tagged fish indicate that fish were moving in the Mississippi River in spring 2023 during the extended springtime flooding. It is likely that the high-water conditions allowed invasive carp and other fish to move upstream past open dams. Invasive carp tend to congregate in the spring and fall and all the previous large captures have happened in these seasons. The previous largest capture of invasive carp was 51 in spring 2020, in similar conditions after an extended period of flooding in 2019.

Minnesota Invasive Carp Action Plan

In 2011, state and federal agencies, conservation groups and university researchers developed the Minnesota Invasive Carp Action Plan. The plan was revised in 2014, and an addendum added in 2020 to provide additional detail on the status of invasive carp in Minnesota and on scientific developments. The DNR updated the Action Plan in 2024 to incorporate information we have learned in the last decade through responding to invasive silver, bighead, and grass carp in Minnesota, and to include updated information about approaches to invasive carp prevention and management that have changed since the previous update. ​To inform portions of the 2024 Action Plan update, the DNR convened technical experts and stakeholders as part of a structured decision-making (SDM) planning process to evaluate potential actions to prevent and manage invasive carp in the Mississippi River.

The key purpose of the Action Plan is to slow the spread of invasive carp, minimize their impact, and reduce the likelihood of invasive carp reproducing in Minnesota waters.

Invasive carp in the United States

Grass, Bighead, Silver and Black carp were brought to the United States in the 1970s as a biological control for plants, algae and snails in aquaculture, wastewater and retention ponds.

During high water events, a few fish escaped from contained systems and became established in the lower and middle Mississippi River. Populations have expanded further to include the Ohio, Missouri and Illinois rivers.

Invasive carp in Minnesota

The first invasive carp captured in Minnesota was a grass carp in 1977 (in a pond near Winona) followed by a bighead carp in 1996 (Lake St. Croix) and the first silver carp in 2008 (Mississippi River Pool 8).

No black carp have been captured to date in Minnesota waters.

Invasive carp captures in Minnesota and boundary waters have increased in recent years. In response to the increased captures, DNR has increased contracted commercial fishing and tagging and tracking efforts. DNR continues to monitor and respond to invasive carp using innovative, targeted techniques. DNR also continues to partner with other agencies to improve our ability to capture invasive carp, including testing the use of the Modified Unified Method (MUM) technique. Collaboration with partners is key to DNR's work on this basin-wide issue.

Early detection and monitoring of susceptible waters

Invasive carp sampling reports

Invasive carp resources

Funded by: Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services and the National Park Service.

Prevention and deterrence

Resources

Funded by: Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, University of Minnesota, Minnesota State University Mankato, University of Minnesota Duluth, USGS, Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment, US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service.

Resources

Questions

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