Tests suggest Asian carp spread north of key dam

Great Lakes invasion
Two Asian carp are displayed during a Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing in February 2010 on preventing the induction of the carp, a aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes. Tests have detected signs of Asian carp north of the Coon Rapids dam on the Mississippi River.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Researchers have found the first DNA evidence of Asian carp north of the Coon Rapids dam, reports the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The Army Corps of Engineers say the tests show the existence of Asian carp DNA north of the Coon Rapids dam, but have not yet captured a live fish.

The results surprise the DNR because the Coon Rapids Dam has been effective at keeping back other invasive fish. There's a very small chance the DNA comes from other species of fish, or perhaps parts of a dead fish, DNR officials said.

In July, lawmakers approved $16 million for repairs to the Coon Rapids Dam. Those repairs haven't been made, and now DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr said a million dollars more might be necessary to improve the dam's fish barrier.

"This is not the time to take our foot off the gas, it's the time to put it on the gas, and I think the Coon Rapids dam is as important now as it was before, maybe more so," Landwehr said.

If Asian carp are north of the Coon Rapids dam, they now can access many north central Minnesota waterways, Landwehr said.

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