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).

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:

  • Monitor for all life stages of invasive carp in Minnesota: adults, juveniles, eggs, larvae
  • Tag and track invasive carps in Minnesota waters to better understand and exploit their movements
  • Contract with commercial fishing operations to target invasive carp
  • Develop new methods to target carp in low-density populations such as by adapting the Modified-Unified Method
  • Participate in regional coordination efforts

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.

Invasive carp news

May 2023 – The DNR received reports of invasive carp jumping out of the water on the Mississippi River below Lock and Dam (L&D) 5 (Pool 5A) and in Pool 8 (downstream from L&D 7). Some silver carp were observed jumping around L&D 5 in 2022 as well. DNR invasive carp field staff and commercial fishing operators contracted by the DNR went to the sites of the reports and were able to capture some invasive carp. Some of those carp were tagged, so that the DNR can monitor their movements, and other fish were removed. The DNR also coordinated with partners including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wisconsin DNR, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to survey additional pools of the Mississippi River. No jumping carp were observed by DNR or partner crews in Pool 5, Pool 6, Pool 7, or Pool 8. Because fish were aggregating below dams, the fast-flowing conditions limit the kinds of nets and other capture strategies the DNR, commercial fishing operations, and others can safely use. The recent high water event may have allowed invasive carp to travel into Minnesota more easily. If you think you have seen or captured an invasive carp, please contact the DNR using the information on this page.

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.

This plan aims to prevent or limit the impact these species may have on Minnesota waters.

In 2023, the DNR is using a structured decision-making process to inform a revision to the Minnesota Invasive Carp Action Plan. As part of that process, invasive carp stakeholders and experts will evaluate options for managing invasive carp in Minnesota, in particular in the Upper Mississippi River basin.

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 1991 (Okamanpeedan Lake) 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 in Minnesota to date in Minnesota waters.

Invasive carp captures in Minnesota and boundary waters have increased in recent years. The DNR confirmed from two to seven individual invasive carp captures each spring from 2013 to 2018. A total of 18 invasive carp were captured in 2019, 83 in 2020 and 71 in 2021. In response to the increased captures, DNR has implemented several Modified-Unified Method (MUM) events in Pool 8 of the Mississippi River and has increased contracted commercial fishing and tagging and tracking efforts. DNR continues to monitor and respond to invasive carp using innovative, targeted techniques.

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


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.



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