Posts Tagged ‘Silver Head Carp’

Adventure Foot coming to you with breaking news! It is confirmed that there is an alien invasion going on in your community right now!  Authorities are advising

“Welcome to Earth.” Will Smith always saves us from Aliens.

readers not to panic but to join in the battle and take some important steps to stem the tide of the attackers… Where is Will Smith when I need him?!

This week (Feb. 26th- March 3rd) is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and as outdoors people, there is a lot we can do to prevent the spread of alien species in our own backyards.  You see, there are animals, plants, and pathogens that are not native to our area, and, left unchecked, the invading horde can out-compete our native species and occupy their natural niches.

I’ve written before about Asian Carp and White Nosed Bat syndrome, and thanks to an aggressive advertising campaign by the National Forrest Service, many people are already aware of the threats of invasive beetle species.  No matter which potential plague we’re talking about though, there are some simple steps outdoorspeople can take to protect our native species.

  1. Clean your boots when moving between areas!  All kinds of hitchhikers from plant seeds to fungus can grab on to muddy boots.  If you’ve been tromping around a Florida swamp and you bring your muddy gear back to Illinois, you may be spreading more than just some sunshine state soil.  You should clean your boots before leaving the alien planet… I mean… state… by knocking all the loose mud off of them and wiping them down with a bleach and water solution.
  2. Don’t move plants or firewood…ever!   I know.  You’ve got a nice stack of firewood behind your house and you think maybe you should just take it with you when you go camping this weekend.  What could it hurt?  I mean you’re going to burn it anyway, right?  WRONG!  That wood could harbor

    Photo credit framinghamma.gov.

    insect eggs, larva or adults, and they can hitch a ride across the state line in the back of your truck and escape into a new environment.  In the Midwest, we particularly need to be aware of a little bug called the Asian Long-horned Beetle. This 1 inch long tunneling beetle has destroyed over 72,000 American hardwood trees east of the Mississippi since its discovery in 1992.  The river has acted as a natural barrier for the beastly little bug, but it only takes one infested log to cross the river for a camping weekend and poof!  It begins to destroy trees all the way to the Rockies. There is a very informative interactive map located here where you can see the spread of this and other wood borne pests.

  3. Clean your other gear!  Whatever outdoor activities you are participating in, you’re potentially contaminating your gear with a foreign invader.  Clean everything! It’s our best defense.  Take extra care with items you’ve had in a body of water like wading boots or fishing gear, or items you’ve used in unusual environments like caves or beaches.  Fishermen should never dump anything from one body of water into another and boaters should clean and dry their trailers when moving between different lakes and rivers.  It’s all pretty common sense advice, but it’s worth reviewing!
  4. Be aware of the invasive species threatening your area and report signs of any infestations.  There are many websites where you can look at the invasive species in your area. I particularly like these two: http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov and  www.nisaw.org
  5. Landscape with native plants!  http://www.beplantwise.org/ is a great resource for all gardeners.  According to this site, over 1.7 million acres a year are threatened by invasive species of plants.  These plants cost over $35 billion a year in economic damage, and they’re also the largest threat to biodiversity in the country.  Use plants native to your area when you landscape and you’ll be helping to prevent non-native invasions.  To learn more, look for seminars in your area like this one in Columbia, Missouri on March 9th and 10th. http://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/attend-workshops-columbia-landscaping-native-plants
  6. Never release non-native animals into the wild.  Did your kid get a snake/mouse/hamster/fish/bird/reptile they were unprepared to take care of? Do not- under any circumstances- release the unwanted pet into the wild!  Find a rescue group and put the pet up for adoption.  Or better yet, be responsible pet owners and never purchase a pet you can’t keep for its entire lifespan.

Adventure Foot: Your first line of defense against the worst scum of the universe- invasive species!  Saw something strange?  Watch your back, ‘cause you never quite know where Adventure Foot is at 🙂

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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources deserves a round of applause, because they’ve come up with one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard of. The IDNR will use its program called Target Hunger Now to take the non-native invasive Asian Carp out of the river and on to the dinner plates of Illinois’ hungry.

The Asian Carp is actually not one type of fish, but three: the Silver, Bighead and Black Carp. They were originally imported from Southeast Asia for use in keeping aquaculture facilities free of plankton, algae and other microscopic organisms. Flooding at these aquaculture plants let the fish escape into our rivers and, in recent years, populations of these fish have exploded in the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers and many of their tributaries.

The Asian Carp are a major problem for several reasons. First, they’re really big fish. The carp average 30 to 40 pounds each, but the largest can be up to 7-feet long and tip the scales at up to 150 pounds. These behemoths are voracious eaters who can consume up to 20 percent of their own body weight in algae and plankton (and, in the case of the Black variety, muscles and sturgeon eggs) per day. They also are prolific breeders, so even though some predators like eagles, pelicans, herons and some large-mouth bass have been known to eat some of the juveniles, far too many of the fish reach a size where they are too large to be eaten. Due to their number, size and appetite, they simply out-compete local fish populations. 

The other major problem the carp are known for is the way that they jump. Low decibel vibrations, like the noise from a boat motor, cause the fish to launch themselves in the air. I saw this first hand on Quincy Bay while I was kayaking with Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon this summer. It was really something to see dozens of fish launch into the air when a small john boat passed us — and it’s easy to imagine that if you were in a moving boat and got struck by one of these fish, you could face potential injury.

That’s why moving the carp from jumping in the rivers to jumping onto dinner plates seems like such a good idea. The fish is already a popular dinner item in parts of Asia and Europe, but Americans are just warming up to the idea. The Asian Carp can be quite tasty when prepared well.  Unlike native carp species, Asian Carp feed within the water column rather than off of the bottom of the river. Anyone who has tasted a particularly “muddy” catfish will know that bottom feeders are not culinary winners. Fish that feed in the water column are also lower in contaminates like methyl mercury than bottom feeders.

Target Hunger Now has already hosted many successful events in Illinois. According to its website, more than 2,000 Illinois families took advantage of the donated venison (deer) program last year. Target Hunger Now hopes that as much as 40,000 pounds of fish can be processed daily. They also expect to distribute 100,000 pounds of venison this year through the Illinois food bank system. This equates to approximately 3.3 million protein-rich meals available free to those who are facing hunger in our communities. And a bonus: catching and processing these fish is creating jobs right here in Illinois.

There are lots of great online resources if you’d like to learn more about Target Hunger Now or the invasive Asian Carp:

Stay tuned to the Get Out blog later this month for information on the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program.

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