TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – An Indiana fisherman exploring the Wabash River earlier this month encountered hundreds of Asian carp leaping out of the water, proof that the voracious fish is alive and well in the state.
Brendan Kearns likened the hundreds of fish jumping on the river near Montezuma to popcorn kernels popping, the Tribune-Star Reported.
"They are all along the river right now," said Kearns, who posted a video of his excursion online at www.purplepug.com.
The video shows the fish leaping out of the water as Kearns' boat passes, with some landing onboard.
Phil Bloom, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said the Asian silver carp, which is known for its jumping ability, can be dangerous when frightened by the sounds of boat motors.
"A boat will be coming along and the fish get spooked and they jump and the boater gets hit," Bloom said.
Asian silver carp and bighead carp, which can grow to five feet long and weigh 100 pounds, were imported to Deep South fish farms and sewage lagoons in the early 1970s. They escaped into the Mississippi and have been migrating north since.
The species were first discovered in Indiana in the mid-1990s in the southwest tip of Indiana near the Ohio River, Bloom said. Some of the fish have more recently been discovered in the northern part of the Wabash River.
The prolific carp eat plankton that form a vital link in the aquatic food chain. Scientists say if they gain a foothold in the Great Lakes, they could starve out smaller fish and decimate the region's fishing industry.
Five states filed suit in July demanding tougher federal and municipal action on Asian carp, and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow has called for using poison to keep the voracious fish out of the Great Lakes.
Indiana plans to build a mesh barrier to keep the carp from leaving the Wabash River system and jeopardizing Lake Erie.
"We didn't ask to get them. We don't want them. They are difficult to control once they have established a population," Bloom said.
Those who catch an Asian carp are asked to kill them. Bloom said the fish are edible.