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One lone bighead carp captured in Minnesota River is causing another round of fuss over the invasive Asian carp species. Although none of the several invasive Asian carp species have been found breeding in the Minnesota River, officials are concerned that they might just be under the radar.
The capture of the bighead carp was announced by the Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday. The specimen was 25 pounds and male. Nonetheless, it is a loner according to the commercial angler that caught it near New Ulm during last week, as well as according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The waterway cutting right through the state could face severe problems if the bighead carp or other species of Asian carp set up camp here. These voracious invaders have a reputation for destroying the river ecosystem by creating an imbalance. Last year in December, another specimen was caught. Nonetheless, this was a grass carp, another invasive species. According to Nick Frohnauer with the Department of Natural Resources:
“We have suspected that bighead carp have occasionally entered the Minnesota River from the Mississippi River, but this is the first confirmed capture”.
Nonetheless, the coordinator for the invasive fish department also stated that just this single capture is not a cause for concern. One long bighead carp captured in Minnesota River isn’t an indication for an established population or breeding in the waterway.
In 2011, another bighead carp was captured in the Minnesota River. Such disparate instances suggest there is little cause of concern. However, officials are keeping an eye out for potential attempts at establishing a population as breeding season nears.
The invasive Asian carp species have been present in the Mississippi River system since the 1970s. However, as only a few specimens escaped the fish farms in the south, no established populations were ever detected. The few specimens that still make their way into the Mississippi River system have been found in the St. Croix river, the Mississippi River and Minnesota River.
The bighead carp isn’t the only species that is causing concern whenever captured in the waterways. Two other invasive Asian carp species are giving authorities a headache. The other species are known as the silver carp and the grass carp.
According to fisheries officials, these invasive fish species disturb the ecosystem when their population numbers are high enough. As they feed on large amounts of plankton, other fish species and native mussel are sidelined and threatened.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia