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Asian carp control efforts

News and information from the Department of Natural Resources regarding Asian carp and control efforts.

Basics

PDF 1.3MB - Asian carp found in Wisconsin 1996-2012
PDF 1.3MB - Asian carp found in Wisconsin 1996-2012.

Vibrations from passing motorboats lead silver carp to try and escape by leaping out of the water. © Chris Olds, USFWS
Asian carp are headed toward Wisconsin waters and pose a threat to boater safety, fishing, and ecosystem health.
© Chris Olds, USFWS

Invaders on the move

Asian carp species [PDF] Asian carp species introduced into the United States are headed toward Wisconsin waters. Asian carp environmental DNA has been found above the electric dispersal barriers in Lake Calumet, seven miles from Lake Michigan on the Indiana-Illinois border, and in 2013, in a single water sample collected from Sturgeon Bay, Wis. . Individual adult fish have been found on occasion in Wisconsin waters of the Mississippi River and in the Lower Wisconsin River.

The good news is no young fish have been found nor have any other signs of reproduction been found in any Wisconsin waters to date.

Map of Asian carp found in Wisconsin 1996-2012 [PDF]

Also, dams on the Wisconsin River at Prairie du Sac and on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway at St. Croix Falls would block Asian carp on the Lower Wisconsin River or the Mississippi River from travelling farther inland in Wisconsin.

These Asian carp species are a serious concern because they can aggressively compete with native commercial and sport fish for food and can potentially disrupt entire ecosystems. Also, silver carp can injure boaters when the fish leap out of the water.

How you can help

  1. Follow all state rules to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and the fish disease VHS.
  2. Learn the features that distinguish young Asian carp from gizzard shad and other minnows, and adult fish from common carp, a related invasive carp species that has been established in Wisconsin for more than a century. Carry this Asian carp brochure [PDF] in your boat or tackle box.
  3. Take a picture of the fish if possible. The best angle is of the fish laid out flat. Try to include the whole fish, nose to tail, in the shot.
  4. Put the fish on ice and bring it to the local DNR office.

What wisconsin is doing

Wisconsin has been working with states and federal agencies involved in managing the Mississippi River and Great Lakes to address aquatic invasive species, including keeping Asian carp from getting established in the Upper Mississippi River and in the Great Lakes. The two basins are artificially connected through the Chicago waterway system. Wisconsin has joined other states in legal action to sever that connection. [exit DNR]. Other actions are listed below.

News

No Asian Carp DNA found in Sturgeon Bay water samples
Issued by DNR Central Office on Tuesday, December 03, 2013 at 11:56:30 AM

Follow up testing planned after single detection of Asian carp DNA in Sturgeon Bay
Issued by DNR Central Office on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 at 12:10:40 PM

Federal research to control Asian carp the topic of Sept. 26 informational meeting
Issued by DNR Central Office on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 1:43:33 PM

No Asian Carp eDNA Found in Wisconsinís Lake Michigan Waters
Issued by DNR Central Office on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 2:32:25 PM

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Photo ID

Photo ID of Asian carp species

Young Asian carp are hard to tell from young gizzard shad and many minnow species. Adult Asian carp have features that can help anglers identify these invaders from older native fish and from common carp. Common carp, invasive nonnative fish that have been in Wisconsin for more than a century, continue to cause problems but the four Asian species are expected to potentially cause even greater harm to fish, mussels, lakes and rivers.

  • View photos from the Wisconsin Fish Identification Database Carp, Common [exit DNR]

  • Bighead carp

    Bighead carp
    Bighead carp body

    Bighead carp
    Bighead carp head

    Characteristics include:

    • Solid gray on back, flanks silvery to light olive, grading to a white belly. Sides often have small to large, dark blotches
    • Relatively small scales
    • Low-set eyes
    • Downturned snout
    • No barbels around snout
    • Keel on underbelly extends partway along the belly to between the pelvic fins
    • No spine on dorsal fin

    Black carp and grass carp

    grass carp
    Grass carp body

    grass carp
    Grass carp head

    Characteristics include:

    • Darker brown, olive or silvery white solid color
    • Pointy shaped face
    • Eyes not low-set
      • No barbels around snout
    • Large scales
    • No spine on dorsal fin

    Silver carp

    Silver carp
    Silver carp body

    Silver carp
    Silver carp head

    Characteristics include:

    • Solid gray on back; flanks silvery, grading to white on belly. Only occasionally with blotching
    • Low-set eyes
    • Relatively small scales
    • Mouth that looks like it's frowning
    • No spine in dorsal fin
    • No barbels around mouth
    • Keel on underbelly extends most of the way along the belly almost to the back of the gills
    • Gill rakers lining throat in front of gill numerous and fine and fused into a thick spongy mass

    Sources: Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, Wisconsin Fish Identification Database

    FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about asian carp.

    Great lakes

    What are Asian carp?

    There are four species of Asian carp that are considered invasive and a threat to Wisconsin waters: the bighead, silver, grass and black carp. Silver and bighead carp are filter-feeding fish and consume plant and animal plankton at an alarming rate. Bighead carp can grow to very large sizes of over five feet in length and can weigh 100 pounds or more. Black carp differ in that they consume primarily mollusks, and threaten native mussel and sturgeon populations. They can grow to seven feet in length and 150 pounds.

    Where did Asian carp come from?

    Asian carp were originally imported to the southern United States in the 1970s to help aquaculture and wastewater treatment facilities keep retention ponds clean. Flooding throughout the 1990s allowed these fish to escape into the Mississippi and migrate into the Missouri and Illinois rivers.

    Why are they a problem?

    Asian carp are a problem because of their feeding and spawning habits. Bighead carp are capable of consuming 20 percent of their own body weight in food each day. Silver carp are smaller, but pose a greater danger to recreational users because of their tendency to jump out of the water when disturbed by boat motors. They can severely impact fishing and recreation. They can spawn multiple times during each season and quickly out-compete native species by disrupting the food chain everywhere they go.

    What happens if Asian carp enter the Great Lakes?

    Asian carp could have a devastating effect on the Great Lakes ecosystem and a significant economic impact on the $7 billion fishery. Once in Lake Michigan, this invasive species could access many new tributaries connected to the Great Lakes. These fish aggressively compete with native commercial and sport fish for food. They are well suited to the water temperature, food supply, and lack of predators of the Great Lakes and could quickly become the dominant species. Once in the lake, it would be very difficult to control them.

    Where are the Asian carp now?

    During 2002 monitoring efforts, Asian carp were detected in the upper Illinois River, just 60 miles from Lake Michigan. In 2009, by using a new method called eDNA testing, silver carp were detected considerably closer, within the Lockport Pool (Des Plaines River, and I & M Canal).

    How would the fish enter Lake Michigan?

    The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) is a manmade waterway that provides a direct connection between the Mississippi River system and Lake Michigan. eDNA sampling suggests that the carp are already about a mile from the electric barrier located within the CSSC that is designed to deter them from advancing through the canal to Lake Michigan.

    Other points of possible entry to the CSSC above the electric barrier are the low lying areas of land positioned between the Des Plaines River, the Illinois and Michigan (I & M) Canal and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. During heavy rainfall events, these areas are prone to flooding. A significant rain could flood the banks, joining the Des Plaines with the CSSC or the I & M canal with the CSSC, and allowing these fish to bypass the barrier and advance toward Lake Michigan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others are currently investigating potential solutions to these bypass issues.

    FAQ provided by Illinois Department of Natural Resources

    Contacts

    Wisconsin DNR

    Efforts to keep carp out of the Great Lakes

    • Bob Wakeman, 262-574-2149

    Efforts to keep carp out of Wisconsin's Mississippi River waters

    • Ron Benjamin, 608-785-9012
    Minnestoa DNR
    UW-Sea Grant Institute
    • Phil Moy, representative on Chicago Dispersal Barrier Project, 608-263-5133
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    For questions about the electric barriers/maintenance, eDNA evidence

    U.S. Coast Guard

    For questions about the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal closure

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

    For questions about the impact of Asian carp on the Great Lakes

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    For questions about the impact of Asian carp on the Great Lakes

    Last revised: Tuesday, July 22, 2014