The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has found DNA belonging to Bighead carp in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee River. 

The find, based on the detection of environmental DNA, or eDNA, tests water samples for cells, secretions and other fluids of invasive species and is seen as an early detection method for live specimens in the water.

The original specimen was taken by U.S Fish and Wildlife Service back in June and was confirmed to contain Bighead carp eDNA by the Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The Great Lakes

Wisconsin has over a thousand miles of shoreline along the Great Lakes, specifically Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Additionally 20% of the state’s land mass and 50% of the population sits in the Great Lakes basin – making it central to the industries of Wisconsin.

At the moment no Bighead carp have been found in the Wisconsin River, or any of its tributaries.

The consequences of allowing invasive carp to reach the Great Lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth, would be catastrophic. Current, successful measures to tackle the threat of Invasive carp, such as BioAcoustic Fish Fences (BAFF), are only effective in contained waters such as rivers, locks and dams. The huge expanse of water contained within the Great Lakes system would make all efforts to control the spread redundant.

Time to act

Dr David Lambert, Managing Director of Fish Guidance Systems believes now is the time to act. 

“Most great catastrophes start with warning signs. eDNA water sampling is a great way to see early detections when evidence of invasive carp are found in local waters. We are working with stakeholders across the United States to support them with innovative technology solutions. We welcome organisations such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, who are flagging the early warning signs of the species in the area.’ Dr Lambert said.

Invasive carp have been in the Mississippi basin for around 50 years, and where they have managed to embed themselves, places such as Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, they are now requiring major infrastructure to deal with the problem. Fish Guidance Systems are currently working with local and national partners to help control the spread of species such as Bighead carp.

Further information

Fish Guidance Systems is the world’s leading designer and installer of sound and light-based fish deterrents.

We work with governments and private organisations across the globe, providing design, manufacturing, installation and maintenance services that are backed by over 25 years of innovative projects and groundbreaking research.Our systems are tailored to particular species, including invasive carp, salmon and eels – controlling their movement with sound projector arrays, high intensity lights and other novel developments.