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Coalition wants locks closed to stem carp invasion

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Collecting water samples
National Park Service biologist Byron Karns, left, thought the slack water in the auxiliary lock at the Ford Dam might be a likely spot for traces of Asian carp, in this photo from September 2011. He was joined by Christina Wille and Stan Zobel.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

A coalition of conservation groups says it is not too late to stop Asian carp in the Mississippi River.

That runs counter to the recent discovery of genetic material from the fish above a pair of dams that might have served as a barriers.

"The eDNA testing, it indicates that there are some fish in place. But in terms of a breeding population, that is not likely to be the case. It could be the case," said Irene Jones of Friends of the Mississippi River.

"But usually you find them in much larger numbers when they start to breed. There is something called an invasion front, which is where the breeding population has reached. Right now the invasion front, it's in Iowa."

Friends of the Mississippi River joins with the Izaak Walton League, the Minnesota Seasonal Recreation Property Owners and the Minnesota Conservation Federation in calling for locks in St. Paul and Minneapolis to close.

The coalition wants the two Mississippi River locks to stay closed until a plan is in place to stop the fish.

The locks were closed at the end of the shipping season early in December. But the coalition keeping them closed could help stem a tide of invasive carp.

But industrial users of the river say barge shipping supports jobs in the Twin Cities and keeps hundreds of semi trucks off area roads.