Carp: Minnesota lakes’ hidden threat

They’ve been called garbage fish, bottom feeders, scum suckers, sewer bass and inland bone fish, but one thing they are almost never called is welcome.

Common carp have been in the United States since the 1800’s– long enough that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) doesn’t technically consider them invasive at this point. The U.S. government brought the fish over from Europe in the early 20th century as a game fish. Today, local, regional and state governments are spending millions of dollars a year to eliminate them.

“The government brought them in for immigrants because it was a popular fish in Europe,” said Lake Minnetonka Association Executive Director Eric Evenson. “People soon realized carp were fished there because it was one of a few choices. Here, you have great native fish and people don’t eat carp.”

Peter Sorenson specializes in common carp research at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. He works with a group of researchers to try and find better ways to manage existing populations and their effects on native species. The biggest issue with carp, according to Sorenson, is their feeding habits.

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