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Species of Asian carp found in Berrien County

BUCHANAN, Mich. -- An invasive species of fish is now in Michiana and the Department of Natural Resources is on alert.

The grass carp, a species of Asian carp, was caught in the St. Joseph River July 9th near the Buchanan Dam. The fish was found able to reproduce, unlike other local sightings since it was first found in Michigan in 2005.

The Michigan DNR says if the species of fish grows in numbers, local rivers and inland lakes could be destroyed.

“We’ve got a neat little ecosystem in this area,” said Shane Hicks, an angler at the Buchanan Dam. Hicks can routinely catch bass with his 11-year-old son in the St. Joseph River.

According to the DNR, the 33-pound grass carp was unlike other grass carp found legally in Indiana. South of the border, grass carp can be used to clear vegetation in private waters, but need to be treated to prevent reproduction.

“They can totally eliminate the vegetative habitat in a lake or a river,” said Jay Welsey, Southern Lake Michigan Unit Manager for the M-DNR. Wesley told ABC 57 News this is the second time a grass carp able to produce was found in the St. Joseph River.

The first captured was in the summer of 2011, the DNR thought the sighting was a fluke. Two reproducing grass carp in two years is an alarming pattern. “It can eat up to 30 percent of its body weight each year,” said Welsey.

The grass carp eats so much underwater grass and vegetation, if multiplying, numbers can eliminate natural habitats for several types of other fish and wildlife.

“It’s alarming,” said Hicks. “It’ll ruin it for everyone else to get out with their kids.”

The grass carp should not be mistaken with the bighead Asian carp that threatens Lake Michigan.

Any grass carp caught should be reported to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Fishing Division.

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