Black carp, which are an invasive fish species in North America, are now known to be established in the wild in parts of the Mississippi River basin. A new study co-authored by the U.S. Geological Survey is the first to identify an established population—meaning they are naturally reproducing and living to adulthood— of wild black carp in any location across the U.S.
Black carp can grow quickly and reach more than 3 feet long. They prey on species such as snails and mussels and pose a risk to many already imperiled native mussels in this region. Mussels support ecosystem health by improving water quality—they filter out bacteria, algae and pollutants as they breathe and feed—and provide food and nutrition for other species.
Knowledge on the extent of invasion can help inform federal, state and local agencies as they develop control strategies, mitigate effects and consider plans and limitations on the use or transportation of live black carp.
Black carp, which are native to east Asia, were first imported to control snails in fish farms where fish are bred. Snails are hosts of parasites that can harm channel catfish, hybrid striped bass and other fish that are important human food sources and support the regional economy.
The use of black carp in these types of aquatic environments is regulated and requires permits, and there isn’t a clear understanding on how black carp escaped those settings.