The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), will begin comprehensive monitoring and detection of bighead, black, grass, and silver carp in Minnesota waters this year. Currently, small numbers of bighead, grass, and silver carp are present in Minnesota.
The goal of monitoring is to better understand the current status of invasive carp in the waters of Minnesota where habitat may allow them to establish self-sustaining populations. Detecting invasive carp in Minnesota waters is challenging because their numbers are low and they are difficult to catch using traditional sampling equipment.
The DNR employs a variety of techniques to gather data about invasive carp, including: commercial fishing contracts, targeted field sampling, eDNA (genetic surveillance), and telemetry. Detecting individual fish and observing changes in overall population, helps inform management efforts and identify ways to prevent the spread of invasive carp.
“These efforts are an important element of the Minnesota invasive carp action plan, because invasive carp species are not yet established in Minnesota,” said Nick Frohnauer, DNR invasive fish coordinator. “Expanding our knowledge of their presence and population dynamics is important to establish timelines and direct deterrence measures.”
Previous monitoring efforts for these invasive carp were focused on the Mississippi River from Hastings to Coon Rapids, St. Croix River to Taylor’s Falls, and the mouth of the Minnesota River. These efforts, combined with additional data from Iowa and Illinois, indicate that for the Mississippi River, the leading edge of established populations of bighead and silver carp is in northern Iowa. As a result, the DNR and partner agencies plan to:
- Expand sampling into Mississippi River Pools 5a, 6, and 8 (in southeastern Minnesota).
- Conduct detection surveys of invasive carp on the Minnesota River while also gathering baseline data on native aquatic communities.
- Maintain sampling stations established on southwestern Minnesota rivers and streams to detect if invasive carp expand into Minnesota via the Missouri River.
- Continue collaborating with MAISRC on collecting water samples from Lock and Dam 1, Lock and Dam 5, and Taylor’s Falls for future analysis.
The DNR is also working on or supporting additional projects to deter the expansion of invasive carp into Minnesota, including: St. Anthony Falls, Lock and Dam 1, Mississippi River Lock and Dams 2, 5, and 8 (MAISRC research locations), and southwestern Minnesota.