CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The Missouri Department of Conservation is once again warning boaters about an invasive fish species in Heartland waterways.
The Asian carp is filling up Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky rivers and lakes. The silver carp, a species of the Asian carp, is especially known to leap out of the water and into the air when spooked. With fish reaching upwards of 50 pounds, they can be potentially dangerous to boaters.
The real issue lies in the problems the carp cause in waterways' ecosystems according to Missouri Department of Conservation systems ecologist Quinton Phelps.
"We know that when you introduce one of those outside their native range if it's within these optimum ecological system, you can have really fast growth rate," Phelps said.
The carp, plankton eaters, can deplete water resources that other native species rely on for growth according to Phelps.
It is illegal to use the carp as live bait in Missouri waterways.
One way the MDC is trying to control is by promoting the carp as an eating fish.
"A lot of Americans don't know you can eat this species," Phelps said. "When you have a product Americans don't think they can get plus you don't have those markets fully developed there's no way to get the product to you and control the population."
Phelps said carp eat similar to bluegill or catfish.