Saturday, August 10, 2013

Carp, Friend or Foe

Did you know ---- a typical female carp produces over a million eggs in a single spawn, and some have produced up to three million eggs!!

To some, carp are a superb game fish to target but to others it is a detrimental, invasive aquatic species. In one such place, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Southeasten Oregon it is destroying vegetation for migrating birds and competing with the native redband trout.  The refuge was established on August 18, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the Lake Malheur Reservation. Roosevelt set aside unclaimed lands encompassed by Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.” 

What's really special about the refuge is over 320 species of birds and 58 mammal species have been observed on the refuge. It is also in the Pacific Flyway and it's abundant water and food resources provide a wayside for many resident and migratory birds. 

In 1950 the Common Carp was introduced at the refuge as a desirable sustenance fish and has since
established in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge waters. Since then, carp have severely depleted migratory bird food resources and diminished water quality. With over 7,2 million pounds of carp currently in refuge waters, bird productions numbers have dramatically declined and will continue to do so unless the carp invasion is controlled. 

Refuge staff have been conducting carp control treatments since 1955. Since then, ongoing efforts to improve aquatic health on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have included the use of chemicals, fishscreens, 
traps and barriers, and water draw downs. While all of these treatments have been effective, carp populations rebound within a few years without a basin-wide solution. In order for carp control to be a success, continuing studies on carp populations and their effect on aquatic food supplies will need to be 
completed. Complete eradication of common carp will not be possible in all waterways, but huge strides can be made in control. 

Fish for Carp during Aquatic Awareness Week
August 16-25, 2013

As part of ongoing research into the impacts of invasive common carp (Cyprinus carpio) on aquatic ecosystems and wildlife, Malheur Refuge is encouraging public participation in data gathering efforts. Between August 16th and 25th a portion of the Blitzen River near Refuge Headquarters will be open to bank fish for carp.  Information gathered from carp caught in this portion of the refuge will augment data gathered in other portions of the refuge.

Participants in the data gathering exercise will also have the opportunity to learn about a variety of aquatic health research projects and carp control efforts at the Refuge and elsewhere in the Harney Basin. The Refuge is working to restore the basin’s aquatic health in order to fulfill its mission of providing feeding, nesting and rearing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Registration is required to fish for carp in the designated area. Registration will be held in the Visitor Center at Refuge Headquarters beginning at 8:00 am. An Oregon State fishing license is required for participants 14 years and older.
Bring your family, friends and lucky fishing pole to bank fish for carp by angling and fly fishing from Sodhouse Lane to the bridge on the Boat Landing Road along the Blitzen River at Refuge Headquarters. For more information contact the Refuge at (541) 493-2612.