Jumping silver carp keeping DNR crews busy on Mississippi River

DNR officials working to slow the spread of silver carp on Mississippi River

DNR officials working to slow the spread of silver carp on Mississippi River

On a sun-soaked Wednesday afternoon outside of Winona on the Mississippi River, the roar of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) boat engines could be heard from shore.

An angler spotted the invasive silver carp, known for its jumping, in the river on Sunday, which sent DNR crews this week to Lock and Dam No. 5.

“It’s more carp jumping than we’ve seen in the past,” said Grace Loppnow, an aquatic invasive species specialist with the DNR. “We’re always concerned about having a large amount of invasive carp, we want to keep it a small lower abundance population.”

The invasive species can sometimes jump as high as 10 feet in the air if startled by a watercraft’s engine.

The fish can grow to more than 4 feet long and weigh 90 pounds.

“I’ve been fishing here for 20 years, first time seen a silver carp jump,” a fisherman told a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew.

DNR crews are busy working to tag some of the carp by the lock and dam to track their future movements in case they do get passed.

“Silver carp eat algae and that’s the very base level of the food chain, so that can cause some competition with native fish for food,” Loppnow said.

The recent high water from spring flooding could have allowed the carp to travel upstream more easily into Minnesota from other states with carp problems. The fast-flowing water current limited how close the DNR boat crews could get to the dam and locks to try and net, or use other capture methods, to remove the silver carp from the water.

To date, DNR experts said there have been no signs the silver carp have reproduced in Minnesota waterways. The state legislature approved $1.5 million in new funding to help the agency deal with invasive species during the last session. This year, the DNR will look to update its management practices for destructive species.