Calling All Spy Fish | God's World News
Calling All Spy Fish
Critter File
Posted: March 01, 2024
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    Invasive carp jump from the river near Havana, Illinois, after receiving an electrical shock from a research boat. (AP/John Flesher)
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    Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Invasive Carp Field Lead Kayla Stampfle inspects a tool that tracks tagged invasive carp in the Mississippi River. (AP/Todd Richmond)
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    Part of a telemetry receiver that tracks invasive carp near La Crosse, Wisconsin, in November 2023 (AP/Todd Richmond)
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    Technician James Stone works to remove a floating, solar-powered telemetry receiver from Black River near La Crosse, Wisconsin. (AP/Todd Richmond)
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    The receiver tracks the movement of tagged carp. (AP/Todd Richmond)
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Wanted: Spy fish.

Mission: Stop the carp.

Millions of carp are in the wrong place. Bighead carp. Black carp. Grass carp. Silver carp. All cause a boatload of trouble.

People brought the foreign fish to the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The fish gobbled bothersome algae, weeds, and parasites on fish farms in the South. But they escaped the fish farms during floods. Eventually, they found their way into the Mississippi River. That superhighway carried the fish to waters in the North and West too.

So, what’s the problem? The voracious carp beat native species to food. Adult bigheads and silvers can consume up to 40 percent of their body weight in just one day. (Do the math. How much do you weigh? Could you eat almost half that number of pounds in a day? And if you did, would any food be left in the fridge for anyone else?)

People do their best to get rid of the menaces. And now they have a new strategy:

1. Capture a carp.

2. Implant an electronic tag inside the fish. The tag sends a signal so the fish can be tracked.

3. Follow the carp to its nest . . . where all its carp buddies will be hanging out.

4. Drop the nets! Break up the carp party and haul them in. That’s a bunch of fish for the price of one.

Kayla Stampfle works at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Part of her job is to stop carp. “Can we keep up with them?” she asks. “I don’t think anyone can answer that accurately.” She calls the fish fight “an uphill battle on a very slick slope.”

Why? As stewards of God’s world, we work to keep animal populations in the right place and under control.