Developing and implementing a sustainable program to control common carp

This project, a contract with the Riley-Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District, focused on developing control techniques for common carp and improving water quality. Common carp cause great damage to water quality, aquatic vegetation, and waterfowl populations in shallow lakes and wetlands.

When this work began, there were 30,000 adult common carp in Lake Staring. Since 2008, MAISRC researchers have developed several methods to effectively remove adult carp, including telemetry-guided winter seining, identifying processes that control the recruitment of young and access to the carp nursery area, and determining seasonal movement patterns and overwintering sites. Using a combination of these techniques, the carp population was reduced to 6,000. However, to achieve desired improvements in water quality, the carp population needs to be reduced to (and maintained at) 2,000 individuals.

Because this is a complex watershed with annual spawning migrations and a lack of native predators, effective and sustained carp control will require a well-coordinated approach to both remove adults and suppress the production and/or movement of their young. This project included estimating out-migration rates of age-0 carp, establishing the efficiency of adult carp removal using winter seining and baited traps, documenting the movement of carp within the watershed to determine the efficacy of a carp barrier, and developing a carp population dynamics model.

This project was conducted in conjunction with another MAISRC project, Restoration and maintenance of native macrophytes in lakes, which studied the response of native aquatic plants to carp removal.

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Project managers: Przemek Bajer and Peter Sorensen

Funded by: Riley-Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District

Project start date: 2008

Project end date: 2015

Final report: Development and implementation of a sustainable strategy to control common carp in the Purgatory Creek Chain of Lakes