DNA belonging to invasive Asian carps may have been found in the Mississippi River near the Twin Cities, the Associated Press reported. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), water samples from the river tested positive for genetic material from silver carp but doesn’t reveal the possible number of fish present, their size or whether they are breeding.
Asian carp are considered dangerous to any river ecosystem because they eat plankton and disrupt the food chain. They also endanger boaters by jumping 10 feet out of the water when startled.
The DNR, along with the National Park Service, began testing the waters in the Mississippi River in September after finding similar DNA in June in the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The presence of silver carp DNA means that the fish could be present in a stretch of the river that include 72 miles of the Twin Cities and the Mississippi National River and Recreation area.
Although only 14 of 49 samples in the river tested positive for DNA, the National Park Service is treating the threat seriously.
“These eDNA results are like a smoke alarm blaring,” said park Superintendent Paul Labovitz. “Until we find the source, we have to assume there is a fire. We have to assume Asian carp are here.”
The DNR plans to immediately hire a commercial fisherman to begin searching for Asian carp in the affected area of the river.