Nature Lab

By Bonnie Chasteen | December 1, 2019
From Missouri Conservationist: December 2019

Each month, we highlight research MDC uses to improve fish, forest, and wildlife management.

Fisheries Management

Asian Carp Removal

If you visited St. Louis County’s Creve Coeur Lake Park last winter, you likely saw lots of boats pulling long nets. Their purpose? To reduce the lake’s biggest nuisance — invasive Asian carp.

Bighead and silver carp, both introduced from Asia, have been damaging the Creve Coeur Park Lake fishery for years. “They have really reduced the quality of sport fishing, especially for crappie,” said MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Kevin Meneau.

After several attempts to remove them with limited success, MDC, St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation, U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formed a partnership to execute an innovative Asian carp removal project last January and February.

“It was a big job,” said Meneau. “It took 18 months of planning, a lot of borrowed equipment from all over the Midwest, and people from as far away as La Crosse, Wisconsin,” he said.

The partnership applied a technique called the unified method. Adapted from proven techniques used in Asia, this method combines fish herding, clearing, and blocking re-entry using several boats, long nets, and dozens of staff.

The result? Over a period of three weeks, the team captured roughly 47,000 carp, about 85 percent of the lake’s estimated population. “By removing most of the Asian carp, we can expect to see good white crappie fishing again in three to five years,” Meneau said.

On a broader scale, results show that the unified method could be ready for future use in floodplain lakes in Missouri and elsewhere.

Asian Carp Experiment at a Glance

The Experiment
  1. Divide the lake into cells using nets
  2. Drive fish out of cells using sound, localized electricity, and nets
  3. Use sonar and selected radio-tagged fish to track school movements
  4. Block fish re-entry into cleared cells
  5. Push fish toward a central collection point
  6. Sort captured fish and return native species
  7. Dispose of captured invasive Asian carp
The Results
  • 85% captured
  • First successful adaptation of unified method in USA
  • Crappie fishing expected to improve

Also In This Issue

Ben Yeargan's Drake
Collectors find joy in unraveling the mysteries of Missouri’s duck decoys.
Brad Jacob
"The truth is that everyone has obsessions. Most people manage them. Birders, however, indulge them.” —Mark Obmascik in The Big Year

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler