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dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is monitoring the recent discovery of black carp near Peoria, approximately 100 miles upstream from where the species has been found before.
Black carp, one of four species of Asian carp, has a low population in Illinois compared with the massive number of the invasive silver and bighead carp.
A few black carp have been found near Grafton, but Dan Stephenson, chief of fisheries for the IDNR, said the recent finding was in a new area.
“This is the first time we found one upstream,” Stephenson said. “One was found south of Peoria, and it was a commercial fisherman who turned it in.”
Fifty-seven black carp have been found in the state since the IDNR began tracking the species. The state utilizes commercial fishermen to help track the black carp population and movement. IDNR will pay $100 per verified black carp caught in Illinois.
“We’re in our third year of that [program], and generally it’s directed to the commercial fishermen because black carp don’t bite on hook and line, so the odds of sports fishermen actually catching one are very rare,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson said he received several messages from residents claiming to have caught black carp and wanting to cash in on the bounty, but they turned out to be one of the other species of carp or a different native fish. The public can learn what the black carp looks like by going to the IDNR website.
“The black carp looks the most like the grass carp, but it is a darker black color," Stephenson said. "There's some difference in the mouth parts, too, and some other differences, too."
Unlike the silver and bighead Asian carp, which feed on plankton, the black carp eats mussels snails.
“In Illinois, we having a lot of different endangered and threatened species of mussels in the state,” Stephenson said. “So, we fear if they’re numbers build up like some of the other species, they can do real damage to our mussel beds in the various rivers systems.”
Stephenson said the main management tactic right now is tracking and monitoring the black carp. The state is ramping up efforts to keep all species of Asian carp away from reaching Lake Michigan by building a new electric fence in addition to three existing fences. He also said one other main ways of managing the entire Asian carp population problem is by finding uses for the fish and creating markets in areas like the pet food industry and liquid fertilizer.