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Entries in carp (11)

Friday
Oct202017

Virus May Be Way To Control Carp, Mussels, Other Exotic Species

University of Minnesota researchers may be able to use a recent fish virus outbreak to combat an invasive species plaguing state lakes.

Researchers with the university's Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center are studying Koi herpesvirus to see if it can be used to control the invasive carp population, Minnesota Daily reported.

"We want to find ways to kill carp and zebra mussels and all these invasive species," said MAISRC Director Nick Phelps. "We started this particular project in 2014 — went two years and didn't see (the virus) anywhere, then saw it in seven to eight lakes in a matter of a month and a half."

 

The center first confirmed a naturally-occurring case of the virus in early August. Researchers confirmed several more cases in early October.

Carp have been in the area for more than 180 years and can disturb lake environments, said Isaiah Tolo a first-year doctoral student with the research center.

"It's a big problem here," Tolo said.

Phelps said his team hopes to release the virus into Minnesota lakes to stop the spread of invasive carp. Koi fish are a subspecies of common carp so they're both susceptible to the virus. The disease won't harm other fish because it specifically targets carp, he said.

"We've never found it in a walleye, musky or bait fish," Phelps said.

Phelps said Australian researchers have spent a decade looking into bio-control to eliminate carp. Australian researchers plan to release the virus into the environment next year, he said.

"It'll be the first time that pathogens will be used for aquatic animal control," he said. "They're pushing the envelope a bit, so we're sitting back and learning what we can from that experiment."

Wednesday
May172017

A Carp Is Not Just a Carp; Here's the Difference

Many people, including anglers, don't understand that we have several kinds of carp now swimming in our waters, all of them fish from other countries. And all of them problematic in one way or another.

The fish in the top photo is a common carp. It was introduced more than a century ago, with the help of the federal government. It's now in lakes and rivers all over this country, and has degraded water quality in many of them, mostly because it roots on the bottom and stirs up sediment.  State agencies sometimes use a rotenone treatment to wipe out a lake's fishery, primarily because of overpopulation by common carp. When someone says "carp," this is the fish that most people think of.

Grass carp (that's me with an illegally stocked grass carp) were first introduced during the 1960s, to help control aquatic vegetation, mostly exotic milfoil and hydrilla. The problem is that they eat ALL plants, including beneficial native vegetation. Some have escaped and are reproducing in our rivers. More recently, there's concern that they might establish a breeding population in the Great Lakes. They're far too easy to purchase and stock illegally by people who have no idea of the problems that they cause.

Finally, Asian carp. That description applies to both silver (top) and bighead carp. The silver carp is the one that you see so many photos of as it flies through the air. Both are growing larger here than in their native habitat, with bigheads now exceeding 100 pounds. These are the most recent introductions, brought in by fish farmers in the South. They escaped and now are outcompeting native fish for food and habitat in many of our major rivers, most notably, the Missouri, Mississippi, Illinois, and Ohio. In some places, they account for more than 95 percent of the biomass. There's concern that they, too, will establish breeding populations in the Great Lakes.

Monday
May302016

You Think Asian Carp Are a Problem? Look at What the Feds Almost Put in Our Waters

If you think that we’ve made a mess of our lands and waters through intentional and unintentional import of exotic plants and animals, you are correct. For example, we now spend billions of dollars annually to control and mitigate the damage done by just four recently introduced species: bighead carp, silver carp, quagga mussel, and zebra mussel.

And in attempts to minimize problems, the government often has made them worse. During the 1940s, the state of Louisiana touted the South American nutria as a way to control water hyacinth, a fast-growing exotic that was crowding out native vegetation in wetlands. Today, the nutria is eating away those same wetlands, contributing to saltwater intrusion and coastal erosion.

In the early 1960s, the states of Alabama and Arkansas allowed import of grass carp to control aquatic vegetation in aquaculture ponds. By 1970, escapees had established populations in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Today, these troublesome grazers are established in at least nine states and have been sighted in more than 40. Ask just about any bass angler, and he will tell you that the grass carp is public enemy No. 1.

And speaking of carp, we have the federal government to thank for one of the worst management decisions ever in regard to our fisheries. In 1877, the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries began intensively cultivating and stocking common carp. In fairness, it was prompted to do so both by public pressure and by overharvest of native fish stocks. By the turn of the century, however, it already was regarded as a nuisance.

“Moreover, their rapid spread appeared to threaten both water quality and native species, as commissioners nationwide noted a deterioration of formerly clear and fertile lakes and waterways upon the arrival of carp,” says the National Park Service.

But you don’t know the half of it. Actually, things could be worse. Much worse. Instead of nutria eating away those Louisiana wetlands, we could have hippos. And who’s to say that these massive “water horses” which can weigh up to 4 tons and eat up to 100 pounds of vegetation a day, wouldn’t have spread east, west, and north?

They are “relatively tolerant of cold conditions,” says the Glen Oak Zoo, which also points out that “many individuals live to 40 years.”

Oh yeah, they also are generally believed to have killed more people in their native Africa than another animal, including lions and crocodiles.

All things considered, I’ll take the nutria, thank you. It tops out at about 12 pounds and is not as likely to charge me at the launch ramp.

But in 1910, Frederick Russell Burnham, a famed American scout and world adventurer, proposed replacing our nation’s depleted wildlife population --- we had hunted deer, turkey, and buffalo nearly to extinction --- with animals that he had encountered in southern Africa.

His proposal lined up nicely with the search for a solution to the growing problem of water hyacinths in Louisiana waters, as well as America’s need for more meat. Writing about this little known piece of American history, Jon Mooallem in American Hippopotamus, says that Rep. of Robert Foligny of New Iberia “liked to plug up problems with big solutions.”

Thus, Foligny introduced H.R. 23261, also known as the “Hippo Bill,” to “appropriate $250,000 for the importation of useful new animals into the United States.” The Washington Post assured readers that they would see shipments of hippos within a few years.

Fortunately for all us, a boatload of hippos never docked in New Orleans. But it wasn’t because of the unexpected discovery of good judgment in Congress. Rather, one representative said that the beasts should not be introduced because unscrupulous hunters would sneak onto the farms and hunt them for trophies.

Yeah, that’s the reason not to import aggressive animals that boast 20-inch teeth and can run at speeds of more than 20 miles per hour.

What turned the tide, though, was that the Department of Agriculture decided to transform swamps and other undeveloped areas into agricultural land to grow more beef cattle.

Thank goodness. Otherwise, we might we watching “Hippo Die-Nasty” instead of “Duck Dynasty” on television.

Sunday
Nov092014

Alligator Gar Plentiful in Falcon Lake

Garzilla Guide Service gar caught on Trinity River

For those who want to catch alligator gar these days, Texas’ Trinity River usually is the preferred destination.  But the Rio Grande and Falcon Lake, an impoundment between Laredo and McAllen, also contain plenty of the nation’s second –largest freshwater fish. (Sturgeon top the list.)

"There are some huge --- I mean really huge, world-record-class - alligator gar in Falcon," said Dave Terre, chief of fisheries management and research for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's inland fisheries division.

"What's really cool is that some of the data collected in this study has never been collected before in Texas. It adds so much to our knowledge base for this fish."

According to the Houston Chronicle, the study documents that those border waters afford some of the best in Texas for trophy alligator gar, fish stretching to 7 feet and longer and weighing 200 pounds or more.

A primary reason for the study was to determine if the large predators pose a threat to the lake’s renowned trophy bass fishery. Examination of the stomach contents of nearly 400 gar revealed that almost 90 percent of their diet is carp, tilapia, and gizzard shad. Bass accounted for just 8 percent of the stomach contents.

With plentiful forage and a warm climate, those gar grow large fast. Females reach 5 feet in five years and sexual maturity in seven, about half the time needed in more northern waters.

But the harvest rate is low, with anglers taking just 1 percent of the population annually. That’s partially because the daily limit is one.

With plenty of fish and little harvest, Texas Parks and Wildlife wants to allow anglers on Falcon to take as many as five alligator gar per day.

"We think this proposed bag limit is supported by the science presented in this study, is sufficient to conserve this population long into the future, and it meets the needs and desires expressed by our constituents," Terre said.

Monday
Sep102012

Carp Kisser!

Are those the lips that you’d like to smooch? What if their owner wanted to kiss you?

That’s the situation that a yellow lab found itself in at Lake Mead.

Check it out.