Proposed federal research to evaluate using water guns or underwater speakers as a barrier to Asian carp is the topic of a public informational meeting Sept. 26 in La Crosse.

The Department of Natural Resources will be holding the informational hearing to seek comments on the proposed use of Asian carp during the research in the outdoor pond complex at the U.S. Geological Survey Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center located in La Crosse, according to Bob Wakeman, DNR’s aquatic invasive species coordinator.

The proposed research would focus on using sound and pressure waves generated by two different methods as a barrier to Asian carp species. Researchers would test using water guns and underwater speakers to generate sound and pressure waves that would be uncomfortable for the carp and would compel them to swim away.

“Because of the statewide interest and concern about Asian carp, we wanted to have a chance for people to learn more about this research, the controlled conditions under which it would occur, and the possibility that it can help deliver some much needed help in slowing the spread of Asian carp to Wisconsin waters,” Wakeman says.

USGS would transport bighead and silver carp to their facility for the research; under state and federal law, the transport, possession, transfer, or introduction of Asian carp are prohibited and can be done only under the conditions of permits from DNR and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. USGS has received the necessary federal permit for the research.

Four Asian carp species imported for use in southern U.S. fish farms and wastewater treatment plants in the 1970s have since escaped and been invading waters in the Mississippi River system. Certain species of Asian carp have been found on occasion in the Mississippi River as far north as Minnesota and up to the Prairie du Sac dam on the Lower Wisconsin River. There is no evidence that these populations are reproducing in Wisconsin waters, but they represent the leading edge of a much larger population moving north toward the Upper Mississippi River and the Great Lakes and posing a potentially serious concern to both water systems, Wakeman says.

Asian carp are a threat to waterways due to their high reproduction and voracious appetites. Bighead and silver carp are filter feeders that can eat 20 percent of their body weight per day, competing with young game fish. In other waters where they’ve become established, Asian carp have quickly proliferated to comprise up to 90 percent of a fish community’s biomass.

DNR and the federal fish and wildlife service have previously permitted the use of Asian carp at the USGS facility’s indoor laboratory in a number of research projects including developing control techniques to selectively deliver a fish toxicant to silver and bighead carp.

This project is one of several research partnerships on aquatic invasive species supported by DNR and aimed at better understanding and controlling these invasive species. Other ongoing projects including Asian carp monitoring with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, testing Eurasian water milfoil control methods with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, research on spiny water flea and rainbow smelt with the University of Wisconsin, and research with USGS to test control treatments for zebra mussels.

The informational meeting on Sept. 26 runs from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the U.S. Geological Survey’s conference center, 2630 Fanta Reed Road, La Crosse.

The public is invited to come and learn about the proposed research, view the draft permit and provide comments. Written comments may also be submitted to Bob Wakeman, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707-7921 by Oct. 5, 2012. Based upon the comments received, DNR may approve, deny or modify the draft permit, Wakeman says.

Image courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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