A commercial fishing business contracted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) captured 30 invasive carp Monday in Pool 6 of the Mississippi River, near Winona. While invasive carp have been previously captured in Pool 6 and upstream as far as the Twin Cities metro, this is the largest number captured at one time this far upstream.
The DNR is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other partners to respond to this capture, which consisted primarily of silver carp. Along with removing the captured carp from the river, additional commercial fishing is being conducted this week in Pool 6. A previously scheduled netting and capture operation using the Modified Unified Method (MUM) in Pools 5A, 6 and 8 will begin April 24. MUM is an adaptive process using boats or sound to herd carp into nets for removal. The DNR also continues to work with partners to assess other potential prevention and management tools, including experimental invasive carp deterrents now being tested for effectiveness.
“While there is currently no ‘silver bullet’ to prevent or eliminate invasive carp, we will continue to use a combination of proven methods and the best available information to minimize risk by targeting and removing as many fish as possible,” said DNR Invasive Fish Coordinator Grace Loppnow. “As demonstrated by this catch, the expertise of our contracted commercial fishers is one of many important tools.”
Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River in Arkansas in the 1970s. These fish compete with native species and pose a threat to both rivers and lakes.
Individual invasive carp have been caught as far upstream as Pool 2 of the Mississippi in the Twin Cities metro (bighead, grass and silver), the King Power Plant on the St. Croix River by Oak Park Heights (bighead and silver), and just downstream of Granite Falls in the Minnesota River (bighead).
The DNR is actively using a wide range of efforts to manage invasive carp:
- 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 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on eDNA surveys. 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 MUM operations to capture and remove invasive carp, in partnership with the USGS, Wisconsin DNR, USFWS, National Park Service, and Wild Rivers Conservancy. The DNR has conducted MUM events each spring and fall, largely focused around Pool 8. We continue to adapt this method to enhance the ability to catch invasive carp.
- 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.
- 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 agency is working closely with stakeholders to update the Minnesota Invasive Carp Action Plan, including evaluation of potential carp barriers, deterrents and other management tools in the Mississippi River. The DNR expects to have recommendations for additional actions available by the end of 2023. The DNR recently published a request for proposals for a consultant to assist in this effort.
- The DNR is also 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.
State and Federal funding sources, including the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund and Outdoor Heritage Fund, have provided key funding for the DNR invasive carp detection and response program.
Invasive carp captures in Minnesota must be reported to the DNR immediately by calling 651-587-2781 or emailing [email protected]. People capturing an invasive carp may not release it. People are asked to 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. A permit can be requested to keep captured invasive carp for consumption or disposal.
More information about invasive carp is available on the DNR website.