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DNR removes 18 invasive carp from southwest Minnesota watershed

DNR fisheries crews captured 12 bighead carp, five silver carp and one grass carp below an electric barrier set up to block their movement north.
Credit: MN DNR
18 invasive carp were pulled from a tributary to the Little Sioux River near the Iowa border.

NOBLES COUNTY, Minn. — The observation of a large number of fish schooling in a tributary of the Little Sioux River in southwestern Minnesota led to the discovery and removal of 18 invasive carp. 

On July 8, DNR fisheries crews captured 12 bighead carp, five silver carp and one grass carp below the Illinois Lake electric barrier that had been set up to keep invasive carp from expanding into other waters. The fish ranged in size from 17 inches to 35 inches.

The DNR says the recent southwestern Minnesota captures are likely related to prolonged high water conditions during the summer of 2019 and spring of 2020. During high water, normally shallow streams contain enough water for fish to move upstream.

Invasive carp have been progressing upstream in the Missouri River watershed since escaping into the Mississippi River in Arkansas in the 1970s. These large fish compete with native species and pose a threat to Minnesota's rivers and lakes. No breeding populations have yet been detected in state waters. 

This is the second recorded capture of invasive carp in southwestern Minnesota. In December, two silver carp were captured below the Lake Bella Dam. Here are some steps being taken to control the population.

  • The DNR first surveyed the Missouri River watershed in Minnesota to identify potential locations to site barriers that could help prevent expansion of invasive carp populations in southwestern Minnesota. The DNR completed eight such projects to limit expansion and protect valuable aquatic resources. The Illinois Lake electric barrier is one of these projects.
  • The DNR provided financial support to the Iowa DNR to build an electric barrier at the outlet to the Iowa “Great Lakes” Okoboji area. The outlet channel also flows into the Little Sioux and Missouri rivers. This barrier protects not only the Iowa lakes but also aquatic resources in southern Minnesota.
  • The DNR also conducts a comprehensive sampling program to monitor fish population changes and impacts of management actions. This includes routine monitoring in southwestern Minnesota.

State law says invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. 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 by calling 651-587-2781 or by emailing the DNR.

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