Thousands of dead carp in Fountain Lake linked to virus

(ABC 6 News) – Carp are an invasive species of fish that have been taking over lakes across the U.S. for over 100 years including the lakes in Minnesota.

But, in recent years mass amounts of carp have been washing up dead on lake shores due to a virus known as Koi Herpes Virus.

Since 2017 there have been 18 cases of the Koi Herpes Virus killing off mass amounts of carp in Minnesota lakes.

Most recently where I am at Fountain Lake in Albert Lea where almost 2,000 dead carp washed ashore. Now, 2,000 fish might seem like a lot, but according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources the natural environment allows for a slower spread of the virus.

"You know a naturally occurring population the fish are pretty spread out. There’s different ages of fish in the lake so, the fish that died at Fountain Lake were generally very young," said MN DNR Fish Health Supervisor Isaiah Tolo.

With the virus mostly killing the young carp how will that affect the future population of the species?

"It’s kind of nice that the virus is taking a little bit of that biomass of some of those heavily populated lakes with carp. Though, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to cause long-term population impacts," said Tolo.

As far as research shows this virus only affects carp so there is no direct threat to humans or other animals but its still something to watch out for when entering a lake.

"You have a bunch of rotting carcasses especially carp-sized ones in the lake. That is going to attract a lot of bacterial growth and fungal growth and its not really something you want to be around so I would not be swimming in a lake or jet skiing around or letting my dog pick up stuff right after a kill," added Tolo.

As far as clean-up efforts go along the shores, Tolo adds, "They smell, they show up they have a big impact, especially for people who want to use the lake. But really there’s not enough infrastructure to go out and clean these up. So, we just have to let mother nature take care of the problem."

The situation at Fountain Lake is getting better, but if you see lots of carp washing up on the shore the DNR asks that you report it on its website.