Kansas waterways at risk as invasive carp spread

WYANDOTTE COUNTY, Kan. — By the hundreds of thousands, foreign fish push against the current to the side of where water rolls over an old dam in suburban Kansas City.

The school of fish stretches as far as can be seen down the Kansas River. Fish are so thick, a quick scoop with a fishing net grabs 50 or more.

They're Asian carp, and though now only 10 inches long, some could reach 100 pounds and take huge bites out of Kansas' $250 million sport fishing economy by crowding out native fish.

Some could also eventually endanger boaters and skiers because, when a boat passes, the fish panic and jump, becoming 10- to 60-pound missiles and occasionally smacking into people.

For now, the Arkansas River is free of the dreaded fish. But a few Asian carp have been found in the Verdigris and Neosho rivers of south-central Kansas.

Biologists fear they could spread to the Arkansas River with help from anglers.

The Asian carp on the Kansas River may have arrived with those who stand to lose if the invasion becomes widespread — anglers illegally catching the fish, which they've mistaken for bait.

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