By MIKE CORN
MANKATO -- The state's fisheries may well be under attack.
That's the word from Doug Nygren, fisheries chief for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
The attack is being waged by silver and bighead carp, and to demonstrate Nygren played a video of young carp jumping -- almost nonstop -- at the base of a dam.
While the carp weren't able to make it over the dam, at least one woman felt sorry for them, capturing up as many as she could in a bucket and carried them up over the seemingly insurmountable barrier to freedom.
That's a surefire recipe for disaster, he said.
But he's just as worried about the person who nets the carp for bait, then releases unused fish into the waters where they are fishing.
Once the carp get in the waters, they will grow, reproduce and essentially take over, forcing out other fish in the water, carving out virtually everything for themselves.
So far, the Asian carp are only in the Kansas and Missouri rivers, and dams can prevent them from spreading farther west. But, if they're transported, that could present other problems.
He compared the carp to the troublesome white perch known to infest both Wilson and Cheney reservoirs.
The difference, he said, is white perch grow big enough that anglers are willing to catch them, helping to keep the population in check.
There isn't much of a following for carp as a source of food, although Nygren said the prospect of some sort of commercial fishing venture for carp in the Missouri and Kansas rivers is being investigated.
For now, it's a race to keep the nuisance from spreading.
"We probably need to take some regulatory action on these Asian carp," he said.
While aquaculture isn't governed by KDWP, and there's no plan to seek that authority, Nygren said there might be a need to monitor bait sales from the state's only wholesale bait supplier to ensure no problems originate that way.
The commission also:
* Set waterfowl season dates, abandoning the "hunter's choice," bag system. The daily bag limit will be six, one bird above the five-bird bag limit last year. The bag can include two hen mallards and two pintails. Duck season for the High Plains zone west of U.S. Highway 283, and the early zone in the Low Plains region opens Oct. 9. The late zone opens Oct. 30.
* Discussed but did not act on a proposal to increase park camping fees effective Jan 1. Annual camping permits, if purchased dring the off-season would go to $200, up $50; in-season rates would increase to $250, a $100 hike. Also proposed is to increase long-term camping by $40 a month in all parks except El Dorado, Milford and Tuttle Creek, which would increase $80 a month.
The camping fees are to be voted on when the commission meets Oct. 14 at the Goodland Elks Lodge.
* Discussed cabin permit fees, but took no action. Those fees will be voted on at the Goodland meeting.