FRANKFORT -- A bounty is now being offered for an invasive variety of the Asian carp family known as the Black carp.
Black carp are native to Asia and look similar to grass carp, according to the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife Resources. They first came to the United States in the 1970s accidentally mixed in with imported grass carp. Black carp cause serious concern because they feed on native snails and mussels. They are part of a group of Asian carp that pose a threat to native fisheries.
A juvenile black carp was discovered early this year in Ballard County at Gar Creek near the Ohio River.
"Assuming this fish was spawned locally, it provides further evidence that black carp are becoming more established in the lower Ohio River drainage in Kentucky," said fisheries biologist Matt Thomas. "The specimen was verified as a black carp by experts at the U.S. Geological Survey Environmental Research Center."
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources reported that last month, two black carp were captured in the Ohio River about 10 miles downstream of the Illinois/Indiana state line.
Black carp feed on mollusks and pose a serious threat to Indiana's mussel populations. Many of the mussel species native to Indiana are already listed as species of special concern or endangered due to pollution and changes in river habitat.
Although it is possible to catch black carp on traditional baits, bowfishing anglers are more likely to encounter them. Black carp look very similar to grass carp.
The Indiana DNR says if you have caught a suspected black carp, follow the "keep, cool, call" procedure:
• Keep the fish and make note of its location, preferably by a GPS fix.
• Cool the fish on ice once you have killed it, as it is illegal to possess a live Black carp.
They also suggest noting the type of fishing gear and bait you used, and if possible, habitat conditions such as bottom type, depth, water temperature and flow.
Anglers may be eligible for a $100 bounty per black carp carcass, funded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and administered by Southern Illinois University. The program has historically been available for fish captured in Illinois and adjoining states and has provided many of the known Black carp captured to date.
Contact the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife Resources to arrange for transportation of the fish.
The natural resource agent might request photos of the carcass to aid in identification, and your contact information for follow-up. Please direct any questions about the bounty to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at (217) 557-0719 or Southern Illinois University at (618) 453-6089.