HASTINGS, Minn. - The dreaded invasive carp have plagued Minnesota waters for years. Experts have only found a handful of adults each year in local rivers, but say it's only a matter of time before we start seeing more of them.
"We spend a lot of time on the water, a lot of sampling and monitoring," says DNR Fishery Specialist Joel Stiras.
Experts like Stiras and his colleague John Waters have spent years catching these invasive fish. They spend most of the year studying these fish in the various rivers and streams along the eastern border of the state.
They're hoping to take their research a step further by catching and tracking the fish to better understand where they're going.
"Right now it's illegal to release an invasive species," Waters says.
The DNR is hoping to create an exception to that rule so that experts can attach tracking devices and monitor their movement.
Waters says a bill is currently being discussed at the Minnesota State Capitol that would allow them to release invasive carp for research purposes. Lawmakers are planning to discuss the bill on the Senate and House floor later this session.
"It would help us better understand their habitats and movement," Waters says.
Other states, including Illinois, currently allow experts to catch and release invasive carp. Waters says he and other colleagues have visited these states to learn more about tracking the fish once the law is changed here in Minnesota.
"We have the equipment and the knowledge on how to do it," Waters says. "It would really help to better understand where they're moving and how they move."
Wildlife experts say the various species of invasive carp differ from the native species in the way they eat and reproduce. Not only do they eat 20 percent of their body weight every day, the fish also have no natural predators and can grow at an alarming rate.
More information on how to tell the difference between invasive and native species of carp is available online.