By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show
A Montreal-based company released a new dog food formula that includes Asian carp, an invasive species in North American waters. Philippe Poirier, a co-founder of Wilder Harrier (wildharrier.com), said the company started experimenting with adding Asian carp into the food because it saw the environmental threats the fish posed.
“We use insect and plant protein, which releases less greenhouse gases [than meat], but we knew there was more we could do for the environment,” explained Poirier “More recently we started looking at invasive species because they are harming the local ecosystem and killing off native fish populations.”
There are four species of invasive Asian carp — grass carp, bighead carp, silver carp and black carp. Each impacts wildlife differently, and are an immediate threat to Ohio’s inland waters and Lake Erie. The carp have actually been a problem in the U.S. since the 1970s and juvenile grass carp were caught recently in the Sandusky River, which empties into Lake Erie. Bighead and silver carp have been steadily outcompeting native fish in the Mississippi River and in the lakes and tributaries that feed it. Grass carp primarily consume aquatic plants, and the foraging disturbs lake and river bottoms while destroying wetlands. The foraging results in increased murkiness of the water, making it more difficult for other fish to find food, and the destruction of aquatic life leaves native juvenile fish without spawning habitat and cover from predators. Experts claim the ecological impacts could result in economic damage to recreational fishing, commercial fishing, recreational boating, waterfront use and even wildlife viewing.
In an effort to prevent those damages, Wilder Harrier partnered with American commercial fishing clubs in Illinois to supply carp for its dog food, employing anglers in small fishing craft. Caught carp are then transported to Montreal for production of the dog food, which is sold online and in Canadian stores. Next up: cat food incorporating the invasive fish, which sounds to me like a more natural sell. As for Asian carp targeted to humans, experts content that the fish have so many small bones and can’t be filleted like traditional food fish, so finding Asian carp on a menu or at your local grocer is a ways off.