by Kendall Slee for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Refuge Update, September/October 2014
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and an array of partners are laying the groundwork for what they expect to be the largest, most complex common carp control effort ever undertaken. The goal is to diminish the non-native fish’s population so wetland vegetation critical to birds and other wildlife can rebound.
Controlling the common carp is the refuge’s top priority, according to its 2013 comprehensive conservation plan.
As an initial step, the refuge tested commercial fishing on Malheur Lake in May. With two boats, fishermen hauled out 54,600 pounds of carp, proving that commercial fishing is possible in the shallow lake. Partners funded most of the $35,000 contract.
The refuge and partners are exploring the development of food processing markets for commercial fishing to become a viable part of comprehensive carp control. Malheur Refuge, a series of wetlands in southeastern Oregon’s Harney Basin, has been designated a Globally Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society as a stopover for migrating birds, including hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and tens of thousands of migrating shorebirds. But, as 5 million to 10 million carp have decimated its wetlands, the refuge has seen a sharp decline in bird populations. Breeding waterfowl around Malheur Lake have dropped to 10 percent of historic numbers. (To continue, view the full PDF.)