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Carp battle will close St. Anthony lock

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will close the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock to boat traffic within one year under legislation signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama, part of a strategy to prevent the northern spread of invasive carp in the Mississippi River.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says closing the downtown Minneapolis lock will keep silver and bighead carp from reaching Mille Lacs Lake and other waters north of the Twin Cities.

“This will protect our local economies and outdoor heritage in the north-central part of the state,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr in a news release.

Invasive carp are known to eat large amounts of plankton, causing food competition for native organisms and sport fish, according to the DNR. Silver carp also are prone to jumping from the water as far as 10 feet at the sound of passing watercraft, posing a danger to boaters and water skiers.

The U.S. Geological Survey lists no established invasive carp populations in the Minnesota portions of the Mississippi River, but individual specimens of silver and bighead carp have been discovered in southeast Minnesota and Lake Pepin.

Last August the DNR verified a silver carp found on a concrete abutment at U.S. Lock & Dam No. 5 near Winona. A report states the fish, the northern most found on the river thus far, appeared to have jumped from the water and onto the concrete where it died.

Fishermen also have caught bighead carp in Lake Pepin, notably a 47-pound specimen in 2012 near Old Frontenac and a 29-pounder in 2007 near the mouth of Wells Creek.

Closing the lock will allow the DNR to focus on invasive carp efforts in southwestern Minnesota, Landwehr said, including barriers to keep the fish from coming up the Missouri River system.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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