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Problem carp growing by leaps and bounds upriver

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River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Those who understand the ecosystem of the Mississippi River are asking what they can do to stop the spread of the silver "jumping" carp now that one turned up near La Crosse. If this and three other unwanted carp move further north, one of the next dams to stop them is in Eau Claire.

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There are two challenges biologists from Wisconsin and Minnesota have.

The first is getting the attention of federal lawmakers. Ron Benjamin is the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Supervisor in La Crosse. He says it's likely the unwanted carp moved north when flood waters topped dams this past year.

"Wisconsin could have the strongest rules in the world but if the fish were brought into Arkansas, Mississippi or Tennessee, and they get out and into the eco system, there's nothing we can do about it. It has to be a federal rule."

Benjamin is working with Congressman Ron Kind on legislation.

The other issue is getting anglers to abide by fishing rules that already forbid moving live fish from one body of water to another.

But since Asian carp have a history of spreading, Ron Benjamin can predict where.

"The places I think would be more likely to have a problem would be the Lower Wisconsin, the Lower Chippewa, the lower St. Croix, the Mississippi, some of our bigger waters that actually have some pretty long stretches of undamed river."

From the Mississippi (River) the next barrier dams are near Menomonie or Eau Claire. A large, jumping silver carp can leap 8 to 10 feet in the air with enough power -- Benjamin says -- to hurt a boater.

There's also concern the silver carp will get into the Great Lakes from the Illinois River where they're already a big problem.

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