CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - The Missouri Department of Conservation was the first to document the reproduction of black carp, a new invader to local water.
The evidence came from two small carp that were collected in a ditch directly connected to the Mississippi River near Cape Girardeau.
"We're in Cape Girardeau Missouri, middle of the country, and this is the first documented evidence of black carp reproduction anywhere in North America," Systems Ecologist with the MDC and Fisheries Research Scientist Quinton Phelps said. "This is really a huge find for us as scientists to help prevent that additional spread of invasive species."
Phelps said there's a series of asian carp species that were introduced in the Unites States in the '60s, '70s, '80s and were brought into secure facilities and eventually made its way into water and spread into rivers.
"We've actually documented a new invader, the black carp, we've seen black carp in the river for several years now, but haven't document natural reproduction," Phelps said.
Now, local scientists have evidence to show the black carp are reproducing in the Mississippi river and are a big problem for many native fish and native mussel species.
"We have, based on the evidence we know, other asian carp species are already posing negative affects on our native species and now the black carp can pose additional issues with the existing issues in the river having negative affect," Phelps said.
Local fisheries are not pleased with the idea of the invasive fish stepping into their traditional fishing grounds and Phelps said this can have a big effect on boaters and fishers.
"The impact of invasive fish species like silver carp, or big heads, or now, the black carp, and their effects on native sport fish white bass, large mouth, crappies those are unknown; and we can't see those effects, but it's likely if these populations of invasive carp continue to expand, we likely will see negative effects on those critters as well," Phelps said.
Phelps said they didn't expect this to be happening because of the low density in the Mississippi River, but there must be more out there then researchers were expecting. In the early '90s, silver carp and big head grew dense and he hopes this fish doesn't grow as dense as those fish are now.
The next step for scientists is to research how far and where the black carp are in the Mississippi River and then come up with management strategies.
Phelps advises you to stock approved fish when you're putting them in your pond and to take care of your bait properly so as to not spread more species into the water.