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Bighead Asian carp found in Muskingum River: Could damage fishing industry

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Bighead carps from Asia are slowly taking over American waters, mainly because these fishes have no real predator to keep their numbers in check. Researchers say, the invasive carp has found itself in Muskingum River, as the carp's DNA was found there last fall.

The DNA could be suggesting that the Asian carp may have swum 80 miles up the river to as far as Dam North and Ellis Lock 11 of Zanesville. Strangely enough though, none of the fish was found in the river, so it is not certain if the carp has made Muskingum its home.

Bighead carps are by no means small, for they can grow up to 60 pounds. They tend to eat up to 40 percent of their own body weight, and usually feed on bugs, plants, fish, critters and the eggs of other species of fish.

The good news is that a change in state law is in the works to combat the spread of the Bighead carp, along with the smaller Silver carp, As per John Navarro who works for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

"If you're going to collect bait from a body of water, we're going to require that you use that bait in that body of water. Because Bighead carp and Silver carp, when they're young, look very much like common bait fish. It's not like someone would be doing this intentionally," says Navarro. "It would be unintentional. And they could inadvertently take them from a location where they're at, to a location where they're not at, and just infest new waters."

These invasive carps are dangerous to the ecosystem, because the moment one of these carps enters the system; it would be very difficult or next to impossible to get the situation under control. Currently, there's a gate at Ellis Lock, but it is falling apart, and thus won't be able to hold off the invasive carps for long.

If nothing is done soon, these creatures could damage the commercial fishing industry due to feeding on the native fishes in the area.

Luckily, the state plans to work closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Medina County to help bring the situation under greater control.

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