This video underscores how bad the invasive Asian carp problem is.
We have tons of invasive species problems here in the United States. Feral hogs in Texas, and Burmese pythons in Florida are two incredibly destructive animals that are causing horrific problems for our nation's natural ecosystems. While these animals often immediately spring to mind when talking invasive species, one animal that keeps getting forgotten in the mix is the Asian carp.
Technically, the term "Asian carp" is something of an umbrella term for several invasive fish species that are not native to North America. This includes fish like the common carp (Cyprinus carpio), but most people are referring to the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), silver carp (hypophthalmichthys molitrix), black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), or bighead carp (hypophthalmichthys nobilis). In any case, just about all these fish species grow to large body weights, spawn quickly, and harm our water bodies by competing with native fish for food.
It's hard to stress just how bad of a problem carp populations have become. That is, until you see a video like this one put together by the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources put together. Watch as officials electroshock the river and send thousands of these destructive freshwater plankton feeding fish airborne.
Yikes, talk about a carp problem! Unfortunately, this aquatic invasive species is already quite common throughout the Mississippi River System, the Ohio River, the Missouri River and the Illinois River. From those large waterways, the different species of Asian carp have spread to countless other lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds. When you see numbers like this, it's easy to see why there's concern for the well-being of native species. It's only taken about 50 years for these animals to become this numerous. It's little wonder that agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey are concerned.
In case you're wondering, most of these fish were imported from Asia sometime in the 1970s. It was originally hoped to use them for food or as cleaners for commercial fish ponds since they are often bottom feeders. The big concern now is the possibility of many of these fish spreading to the Great Lakes. The Grass carp is already in most of them. If the rest get in, Lake Michigan will likely be the first lake affected. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the organizations currently being tasked with protecting the Great Lakes. Mostly through the building of locks and dams. In the meantime, the fish also create a more unusual secondary problem. Because of the tendency to jump you saw here, this species is a hazard to boaters. People regularly suffer flying carp related injuries due to this fish!
The good news is, for anglers, most wildlife agencies are allowing people to take as many of these carp as they can catch. This is a good species to target while bowfishing. It may not make a huge dent, but we see anything done to stop the spread of Asian carp as a good thing. If you live near where these fish are found this year, give carp fishing a try this year. Our native fisheries need all the help they can get!