One of the more vexing of invasive species, Asian carp were imported into the Southern United States to help keep fish farms clean, but in the 1970s, they made a break for the wild and have been wreaking havoc ever since. They are overwhelming the Mississippi and Illinois river systems, in some parts comprising more than 95 percent of the biomass. They cause ecological destruction, they harm people, and they are a potentially devastating threat to the Great Lakes.
What to do?
Exhaustive efforts are being made to quell the voracious species, but perhaps none as novel as the enterprising endeavors of Nate Wallick and Zach Hoffman, who have made a splash on YouTube as the Peoria Carp Hunters. Like a pair of American Gothic superheroes, they have taken to the feisty fish with pitchforks and swords, wearing trash can armor and football helmets. Their method of transportation? Water skis and boat-drawn inner tubes.
“[The carp] spawn three times a year,” Wallick said. “They eat 40 percent of their body weight a day in plankton. They’re known to grow up to be 100 pounds. So they put out millions of eggs and just how fast they are reproducing, if they were to get into the Great Lakes, it would be devastating.”
Eric Young — the modern, irreverent Ahab who as host of Animal Planet’s TV series, “Off the Hook: Extreme Catches” revels in the odd ways in which man takes to water in quest of fish — joined the dynamic duo for some of the crazy carp catching. Alex Perez of ABC news went along for the ride. The video below shows the carp encounters captured by the news team, as well as other clips of the Peoria Carp Hunters hard at work. It's a tough job, battling invasive species with farming implements while balancing on skis, but someone's got to do it. Hats off to the zany hunters.