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FY 2016 Program Highlights

Scientific research may have uncovered a new weapon in the battle to control Common carp, an aquatic invasive species that has occupied Malheur Lake for decades.
Advancements in Common Carp Control Underway at Malheur Lake

by Sean Connolly and Will Simpson, Division of Fish and Aquatic Conservation

How do you reduce the population of an invasive species with numbers in the millions and that's decimating one of the West's most important lakes for waterfowl?
USFWS Employee presenting a Common CarpA Service employee displays an invasive Common Carp at Malheur Natinoal Wildlife Refuge
Photo Credit: USFWS

That's just one of the challenges the Service and partners have been facing at Malheur Lake in southeast Oregon. Since Common carp were introduced in the 1950s, waterfowl production at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has dropped to 25% of historic levels, due to the carp's decimation of the lake's emergent aquatic vegetation. And while recent, redoubled efforts to use commercial fishing is starting to have an effect, it's clear that successful, long-term Common carp management requires removing fish at different life stages.

USFWS Employee Gaging Electroshocker A FAC program employee gauges an electroshocker used in trials to control invasive common carp by killing eggs. Control efforts for adult carp are costly and time-consuming.
Photo Credit: USFWS

Service fisheries biologists may have come up with a novel -- and cost-effective -- solution: using electricity at just the right dose to lethally zap carp embryos. In 2016, researches completed a pilot study at the Refuge to determine what types of currents produced by electroshockers -- and what type of broadcast range--would most effectively kill Common carp eggs. The results, coupled with research the scientists also conducted on the effects of electrical waveforms and voltage gradients to salmon eggs, could empower and amplify existing carp control efforts. The Service plans to use the approach in future treatments in both Malheur Lake and interconnected waterbodies, hopefully with shockingly-effective results.

Malheur Lake is one Norh America's most important lakes for migratory waterfowl.


Last Updated: May 25, 2017
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