The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently collected bighead carp in the James River near LaMoure during silver carp monitoring efforts. Bighead carp are an invasive species that are established in the lower Missouri River and in the James River in South Dakota.
Jessica Howell, Game and Fish aquatic nuisance species coordinator, said department personnel are disappointed but not surprised that bighead carp have entered the state.
“High water levels in the James River this year have facilitated their movements upstream, providing an opportunity for them to enter the state from the South Dakota portions,” Howell said.
Game and Fish staff will continue to sample the James River on a regular basis to monitor the silver and bighead carp populations, as well as to detect other new species that migrate during high water conditions.
“Once established in a large river system they are virtually impossible to eliminate,” Howell said.
Like the closely related silver carp that showed up in 2011, bighead carp can out-compete native species. They eat phytoplankton, a food item consumed by zooplankton, which in turn are eaten by small game fish. They also concentrate below dams and tributary mouths, displacing game fish.