River Talk

Carping about the carp

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OK, sorry about that pun--just couldn't help myself.

Dennis Anderson is the widely-read outdoors columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who can be pretty reliably counted on to treat the issues of environmental protection through the perspective of a hunter and fisher.  That's fine; those are important contituencies for habitat, clean water, and other concerns in this part of the world.

Anderson's recent article on the ongoing threat of Asian carp to Minnesota waters struck the right note for the most part, at least to my way of thinking.  There ought to be urgency around this issue of a particularly threatening aquatic invasive species, and Governor Dayton's recommendation for an "all hands on deck" effort is a welcome voice.

But I have a couple of questions, being the contrarian that I am:

First, does anyone know if there is a "natural" northern range limit for these fish?  That is, left to their own devices--and they have darn well resisted efforts to slow them down thus far--how far north are they liable to reach?  Mille Lacs?  Winnipeg?

Second, and I intentionally included Mille Lacs in the previous point, where is the best place to try to stope these critters from decimating the Mille Lacs sport fishery?  Influential people have made the claim that the right spot to stop the carp is at the Coon Rapids Dam, and all that's needed is tens of millions of dollars and an ongoing commitment to maintain a dam that no one really wants.  Or, I should say, no one other than a couple of hundred people who own property along the stretch of the river impounded behind the dam.  Those folks have made a lot of noise trying to get the legislature to protect "their" stretch of the river, and have now enlisted the carp fight as an ally.

Other people have told me that the best place to "close the river to carp" may be the Ford Lock and Dam, or maybe even St. Anthony Falls.  Waiting until Coon Rapids is like waiting for the burglar to get to your screen door and then calling for help and hoping the door holds.

This is going to be a lively debate for the next few years.  Any one want to join in now?  Where should we try to "stop the carp"?

1 Comment

As the recent imports of live Asian Carp from the US into Canada have shown, there are many more than one way for invasive species to move. Physical barriers such as dams will, I fear, prove to be temporary blocks to the inevitable march of aquatic invasives upriver. Once an invasive gets past the existing natural things keeping it out of another habitat, geographic or otherwise, I'm afraid the battle is over but for the screaming.

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