Background and Risks of Invasive Carp

Asian Carp
There are many species grouped as invasive carp, which are in the minnow family Cyprindae: Common Carp, Goldfish, Crucian Carp, Grass Carp, Black Carp, Bighead Carp and Silver Carp.

The Bighead and Silver Carp are currently the primary invasive carp aquatic nuisance species of concern for the Upper Illinois Waterway and Chicago Area Waterway System.

Potential Risks of Invasive Carp
Bighead and Silver Carp are voracious eaters, consuming microscopic organisms known as plankton. Like all planktivores, they eat from the base of the food chain, putting them in competition with native planktivores which include juvenile fish and mussels.

Bighead and Silver carp are capable of eating between 20 to 120 percent of their body weight each day. Bighead Carp can weigh up to 100 pounds while Silvers can weigh up to 60 pounds. Silver carp also jump into the air and have been known to land in boats, damage property, and injure people.

The migration of invasive carp through the Illinois River, Des Plaines River and Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) is one risk facing the Great Lakes today. Currently, the adult population front of Silver and Bighead Carp is about 45 miles from Lake Michigan and has not moved for approximately 15 years.

How you can help:

• Alert your Department of Natural Resources if an invasive carp may have been observed in your waterways.
• Do not move live fish from one location to another. Some state laws prohibit the transport of live invasive carp.
• Never use wild-caught baitfish in waters other than where they came from.
• Know the difference between juvenile invasive carp and juvenile shad (Gizzard and Threadfin Shad), which look nearly identical.
• Drain lake or river water from live wells and bilges before leaving any body of water.
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