Invasive Asian Carp Caught, Not Released by Illinois Bowfishermen

Sal holds a Political Science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
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Note to Asian carp: leaping may cause sudden, premature death. (Photo: Stringer USA / Reuters)

Ready, aim, fire—not exactly the expected mantra from fishermen.

Facing an invading foreign army that’s literally hopping mad, fishermen in north central Illinois needed to up their game—and their arsenal.

Armed with bow fishing rods, 42 teams of bowfisherman in the Prairie State did a bit of exterminating last weekend—clearing hundreds of pounds of Asian carp, an invasive species, from the Illinois River in an event deemed “Carpapalooza,” reports The News Tribune.

A $5,000 prize may have been the immediate reward, but fishermen and state officials told the Tribune that the event had loftier goals.

“The whole goal of all the Asian carp programs we have right now is to reduce the threat of them getting into the Great Lakes,” said Todd Maine, of the Department of Natural Resources.

One of the teams participating in the event, Team Pokaho, is dedicated to battling the invasive fish, reports the Tribune:

"There's a major problem. The thing we have to do, and we can’t stress it enough, is we have to attack these species,” said Greg Pyle, of Evansville, Indiana. He and some friends have even started an organization to support such efforts. "Education is a big part of what we do,” said team member Bruce Bauer of Sturgis, Kentucky.

The history of the carp in the U.S. can be traced back to the 1970s and the good intentions of southern farmers.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

Two species of Asian carp—the bighead and silver—were imported by catfish farmers in the 1970s to remove algae and suspended matter out of their ponds. During large floods in the early 1990s, many of the catfish farm ponds overflowed their banks, and the Asian carp were released into local waterways in the Mississippi River basin. The carp have steadily made their way northward up the Mississippi, becoming the most abundant species in some areas of the River.

A voracious eater capable of disrupting local ecosystems, the Asian carp—which has no natural predators—drew eyeballs in the Chicago media in July when a 19-pound speciman was caught six miles from Lake Michigan.

An expensive electric barrier was hoped to have contained the fish 15 miles to the south.

Standing on boats, bowfishermen use a bow and specialzed arrows affixed to a fishing line to shoot fish that are underwater or jumping.

As seen in the following video, Asian carp leap as high as 10 feet above the water.

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