Discovery of Asian carp near Winona ‘discouraging but not surprising,’ DNR says

More bad news in the battle against aquatic invasive species in Minnesota surfaced last week in the form of a silver carp and a bighead carp caught March 1 in a seine net by commercial fishermen on the Mississippi River near Winona, Minn.

The Department of Natural Resources reported the findings Monday.

Commercial fishermen George Richtman, Tim Adams, Bob Davis (from left) hold Asian carp caught March 1 in Mississippi River near Winona, Minn. Richtman is holding grass carp, Adams is holding silver carp and Davis is holding bighead carp. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR)

The silver carp, known for its tendency to leap from the water when startled, weighed about 8 pounds and represents the farthest discovery to date of the species, the DNR said. Populations of the two Asian carp species now are established in the Mississippi River and its tributaries downstream of pool 12 in Iowa.

“A silver carp discovery this far upstream is discouraging, but not surprising,” Tim Schlagenhaft of the DNR’s Mississippi River Team in Lake City, Minn., said in a news release. “This is further evidence that Asian carp continue to move upstream in the Mississippi River.”

No established populations of bighead or silver carp are known in Minnesota, the DNR said, but individual Asian carp have been caught by commercial fishermen in recent years. Three silver carp (two in pool 8 near La Crosse, Wis., and one in pool 9) were caught between 2008 and 2011. One bighead carp was caught in the St. Croix River in 1996 and one in 2011. From 2003 to 2009, six bighead carp were caught in the Mississippi River between Lake Pepin and the Iowa border.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing last year indicated the presence of silver carp in the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers in the Twin Cities area. Searches by the DNR and commissioned commercial fishermen failed to turn up any sign of live Asian carp at that time.

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Sampling produces silver carp DNA north of Coon Rapids Dam

Bad news today from the Department of Natural Resources, which reported eDNA testing for Asian carp found signs of the invasive silver carp upstream of the Coon Rapids Dam in the Twin Cities.

Bighead carp (top) and silver carp. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)

The silver carp is the nasty jumping species that goes airborne when frightened by noises such as boats.

The dam is upstream of the Mississippi’s lock and dam system and has been a significant fish barrier and a key component in the DNR’s strategy to keep Asian carp out of the river north of the Twin Cities. The DNR today, though, reported finding silver carp DNA traces at 19 of 48 sites tested upstream from the dam.

According to a DNR news release, the highly sensitive eDNA tests are designed to detect DNA in the environment that comes from the mucus or excrement of Asian carp.

The DNR said it will hire a commercial fisherman to look for Asian carp below and above Coon Rapids Dam, as it has at other sites where the carp DNA has been detected.

“The positive test results don’t change the fundamental goal of the state’s Asian carp action plan,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “We must research and implement our available options to prevent or slow the movement of Asian carp upstream in our river systems, and to manage and control their populations should they become established.”

More information about Asian carp can be found here.