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Dynamic Aquatic Health Team at Malheur NWR
Pacific Region, March 20, 2013
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Kris Crowley releases a radio tagged carp back into Boca Lake after surgery
Kris Crowley releases a radio tagged carp back into Boca Lake after surgery - Photo Credit: Carla Burnside/USFWS
USFWS Fish Biologist Linda Beck takes tissue samples looking for common carp fish health issues.
USFWS Fish Biologist Linda Beck takes tissue samples looking for common carp fish health issues. - Photo Credit: Ken Lujan/USFWS
John Megan (Law Enforcement Officer), Linda Beck (USFWS Fish Biologist), and Przemyslaw Bajer (University of Minnesota) use radio telemetry to track tagged common carp.
John Megan (Law Enforcement Officer), Linda Beck (USFWS Fish Biologist), and Przemyslaw Bajer (University of Minnesota) use radio telemetry to track tagged common carp. - Photo Credit: Kris Crowley/USFWS

Common carp are highly destructive and highly prolific, a difficult combination that has caused Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wetland habitat and waterfowl use to plummet to a fraction of what it was historically. It demands control efforts that attack all life stages. This is the approach of the dynamic aquatic health team at Malheur: Linda Beck and Kris Crowley. The Comprehensive Conservation Plan identifies aquatic health on Malheur Lake as the number one refuge priority. The research driven, basin wide approach by the aquatic health program, refuge staff, volunteers, and partners is encouraging as a sustainable method of limiting carp on Malheur. The following is a list of research projects and day to day activities on the refuge for controlling common carp.

 

Each May and June studies are conducted searching for desirable fish species on the refuge that predate on carp eggs and larvae. With each sexually mature female being able to produce as many as two million eggs per year, limiting this life stage is crucial to success.

In two lakes on the refuge there have been fish surgically implanted with radio telemetry tags. This allows the team to track the fish’s movements throughout the year and to pinpoint times of vulnerability.

Four dams on the Blitzen River have been equipped with fish ladders and adult traps. The benefit of the ladders is two-fold as they allow the native fish to migrate freely around the dams, while the carp can be removed from the system. In early summer as many as 500 carp may be removed from the system daily.

East Canal is on the southern portion of the refuge and has been known as a superhighway for carp movements to and from spawning grounds. However, several fish screens have been placed along this canal and in neighboring waters. It is being sampled by electrofishing for species diversity and range, and to determine the extent of use by carp. Early results show no carp to be present in the fall suggesting some level of success in limiting spawning along the canal.

Eleven water bodies throughout the refuge ranging from very low to extreme carp abundance levels are being inventoried. Data is being collected on densities and diversity of submergent aquatic vegetation, macroinvertebrates, fish, and water birds as well as water chemistry. This study has been illustrating the far reaching negative effects of carp on ecosystems.


Refuge Waters in Peril Brochure
http://www.fws.gov/malheur/pdf/AQ_Health_brochure_1.pdf
Contact Info: Briita Orwick, 503-231-6946, briita_orwick@fws.gov



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