LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - The silver carp, one of the notorious leaping fish brought to the U.S. from China, has been found in the Mississippi River near La Crosse in its first known appearance in Wisconsin or Minnesota waters.
La Crosse fisheries supervisor Ron Benjamin with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said the 24-inch fish was among five Asian carp caught by a commercial fisherman in backwaters of La Crosse last week.
In the same net were two grass carp and a bighead carp, as well as an unidentified carp that got away. The fish were discovered at a market in Pepin and reported to the Minnesota DNR.
The grass and bighead carp had been found in the area before, but the silver carp hadn't been found farther upstream than Clinton, Iowa.
Benjamin said the development is cause for concern.
Silver carp can grow to 60 pounds or more, and they become a hazard when they leap in front of boats.
Their habit of filter feeding the plankton on which native mussels and fish rely and their prolific reproduction make them a threat to the river's ecosystem.
Benjamin said the fish may have migrated upstream during spring flooding, when high water topped dams that otherwise would block their path.
The DNR, its Minnesota and Iowa counterparts and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be monitoring commercial fish hauls to watch for the invasive species, he said.
He urged anyone who finds one of the fish to report it.
"There probably are more out there," Benjamin said. "I don't know how many more."
On the Net:
Wisconsin DNR: http://www.dnr.wi.gov
Minnesota DNR: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us.