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Tests find evidence of Asian carp in Minn. waters north of Twin Cities

ST. PAUL -- Asian carp appear on their way to northern Minnesota waters, or may already be there.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today announced DNA test results in Mississippi River waters just above a Coon Rapids dam in the northwestern Twin Cities area show the invasive carp may be present.

Nineteen of 48 tests near the dam showed silver carp DNA, three upstream of the dam. Those are the carp that are well-known for leaping out of the water, at times hitting boaters.

No live fish have been found, so the DNR's Tim Schlagenhaft said the agency is investigating the possibility of false positive results.

"We must research and implement our available options to prevent or slow the movement of Asian carp upstream in our river systems, and to manage and control their populations should they become established," DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said.

Landwehr and others planned to further discuss the situation early this afternoon.

Schlagenhaft said that there would appear to be few of the invasive carp upstream from Coon Rapids, so there may be time to take action to keep the population small.

However, in the past carp experts have said that once the fish pass the dam, there could be no stopping them from infesting most northern Minnesota waters.

The carp have huge appetites and devour food depended on by native fish. They can eat 5 percent to 20 percent of their body weight a day.

Scientists fear that if carp take over rivers it will push native fish out of the way.

Asian carp DNA also has been found in the St. Croix River as well as several locations on the Mississippi from Hastings northwest to Coon Rapids.

The 2011 Minnesota Legislature approved spending money to upgrade the Coon Rapids dam in an effort to stop the carp's spread, but that will not be finished for more than two years.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.