Dreaded Asian carp headed toward Indy

August 19, 2010
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If you enjoy riding boats on the White River, you had better get in as much of it as you can, while you can. The Asian carp, perhaps the worst invasive species to ever hit Indiana and the bane of boaters, anglers and ecologists alike, is on its way up the White River.

John Goss, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation, says the carp have been confirmed in the White River near Bloomfield in southwestern Indiana, and it’s just a matter of time before they bring their acrobatics and locust-like appetites to Indianapolis and streams and tributaries beyond.

“We could expect to see them any time,” says Goss, who directed the Indiana Department of Natural Resources under former governors Frank O’Bannon and Joe Kernan. “Indiana must develop a strategy to reduce the Asian carp in the near future, or they will crowd out other species.”

The carp, which escaped from Southern catfish farms in the early ’90s, could become a greater ecological problem in Indiana than the Emerald ash borer that’s killing trees across the state, he says.

Authorities are trying to stop the carp from moving from the Illinois River into Lake Michigan, where it likely would all but wipe out game fish and the fisheries industry.

The fish indeed is something to reckon with. It multiplies quickly, has a voracious appetite and gets huge—up to 4 feet long and 100 pounds.

Their size is what makes boating interesting. Motors seem to startle them, so when a boat passes, they leap like dolphins out of the water and sometimes smack boats and boaters. Here’s a video of the fish jumping from the Wabash River, where they’re also moving in.

People who care more about Eagle Creek, Geist or Morse than the White River should be concerned, too. The reservoirs are protected from streams by spillways, but all it takes is for one person to catch a couple of the carp and think they’re doing nature a favor by releasing them where they don’t exist.

“Do not take these fish live and do not put them in another body water,” Goss warns.

The picture is not bleak, Goss says. Scientists might figure out how to disrupt their reproductive cycles like they did with sea lampreys, the eel-like fish that invaded the Great Lakes and proceeded to latch onto trout, walleye and other fish with their concentric circles of teeth.

What are your thoughts?

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  • Wake up politicians -- you're the problem
    This is bad news. There's nothing pleasant about these ugly, invasive fish.

    Hopefully a solution like Goss mentions above will happen soon, and protect the wildlife in our rivers, streams and lakes.

    The bureaucrats in politics need to WAKE UP and TAKE CARE OF OUR NATURAL RESOURCES.

    Why haven't decisive steps been taken to do as much as possible to keep these fish from getting into Lake Michigan? --- Because overpaid politicians are too busy in pontificating over whether this is a real threat or not, and in typical fashion will wait until the problem is so big it either is too much to deal with or will have longstanding consequences before it can ever be brought under control again.

  • Fish Story
    Got hit in the back by a fish last year while canoeing downstream from Noblesville. I wondered if that might have been an Asian Carp.
  • Call Chief Brody
    (Insert theme to JAWS here....) All kidding aside...nasty fish.
  • Eat em instead!
    These carp are NOT the same as the common carp we've all grown to hate, they're apparently quite good to eat. Some chefs in Chicago are trying to put them on the menu and just call them something else like 'silverfin'. Ironically, a Chicago fish exporter has contracted with an importer from China, where they originated; they may buy 30 million pounds/year to EAT!!! I haven't tried it, or maybe I have and just didn't know it!!!
  • fiddle while rome burns
    w/ yet another sign of our impact on our mother earth, i think we can at least get out and enjoy the show!!
    canoers, SLAP those paddles and make em jump!!
    • Where are Fish and Wildlife people?
      The Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife should have crews out netting these fish RIGHT NOW. Sooner than we think, the Asian carp will destroy both sport fishing and commercial fishing, and with them jobs. Nor will restaurants serve lake trout or walleye in the near future. And all of the hatchery and fish stocking efforts of government agencies will have been in vain. IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY ACTION must be taken by government wildlife agencies to destroy these fish.
    • is the sky really falling?
      I agree that Asian carp are a species that need to be monitored and controlled, however, I find it disconcerting that the main venue that this has taken place is in the legal system. Politicians are sounding the cry that the sky is falling, but this is an issue that should be handled by scientists, not politicians. Let�s let environmental experts decide how to control the carp, not slap a lawsuit on the problem in order to look proactive.
    • Walkabouttown
      The Earth is not my mother! But I love her just the same.

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    1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

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