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Minn. DNR: Floodwaters ease spread of invasive carp

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Bighead carp
DNR Central Region Fisheries Supervisor Brad Parsons with bighead carp caught April 18 in St. Croix River.
Photo courtesy the Minnesota DNR

A 27-pound bighead carp's journey up the Mississippi River might have been eased by floodwaters, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources expert said Thursday.

Luke Skinner, invasive species supervisor for the DNR, said the fish a commercial fisherman caught in the St. Croix River this week might have used high water to find its way to where the two rivers merge.

The DNR is concerned about the invasive fish disrupting Minnesota's river ecosystems.

"It is cause for alarm because now we're finding something pretty high up in the river, and we just don't have a lot of ways to slow their spread, especially big river systems like this that are prone to flooding," Skinner told MPR's Morning Edition.

All the locks, dams and gates are open this spring to allow high water to flow through, Skinner said. But even when the locks are closed, fish can get in. Skinner said there needs to be more fish barriers that would prevent invasive fish species from spreading.

Skinner said such a fish barrier could be part of a project to improve and refurbish a Mississippi River dam in Coon Rapids. The project is part of Gov. Mark Dayton's bonding proposal.

It was the first time since 2009 that bighead carp had been found in the state, but officials expected to see more make the journey north. Researchers will try to determine how far the carp caught this week had traveled.

Skinner said it's not likely that the invasive carp are reproducing in Minnesota waters.