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August 20, 2013

Biologists look to stop Asian carp

Biologists need help in curbing invasive species' progress into Great Lakes.

(Continued)

There are signs and posters near fishing areas that ask fishermen and women to also drain live wells and bilges on boats before leaving the lake or river. That’s because Asian carp eggs could be floating in the water in those areas.

King added that the live wells and bilges should be allowed to dry out completely before the boat is put into a different body of water. And, she said, checking for plants hitching a ride in and on boats should be something boaters do each time they leave the water.

Another problem that will develop if Asian carp get into Lake Monroe is they will hinder recreation on the lake. The most visible of the Asian fish are the silver carp, a species that will jump high out of the water when motorboats travel nearby. There are many videos on YouTube showing the fish jumping.

Since adult silver carp are “fairly commonly over 20 pounds,” they can injure boaters and water skiers, Keller said.

“We are seeing and hearing a lot of complaints in our infested rivers, the Wabash and the White,” he said. “It’s becoming a danger in our rivers,” adding that “it’s all going to be human mediated movement that will help (Asian carp) get into our reservoirs. They can’t swim into them.”

Keller said although the carp have a physical barrier keeping them out of the reservoirs, there are carp in some of the strip pits in the Greene-Sullivan State Forest area. The fish have traveled up ditches and when flood waters cause the water levels to rise, they swim into the strip pits.

Keller said once the invasive fish are in a body of water, there’s no way and no technology to get them out. That means the fish are now in the Ohio River system, up the White River and “knocking on the door of Indianapolis,” Keller said. One of the prized fishing rivers of Indiana, the Tippecanoe, is still clear of the fish in the upper region.

But vigilance of anglers and keeping barriers in place is the only hope of stopping the spread of the Asian carp.

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