Release of pet goldfish may have killed thousands of carp in southern Minnesota lake

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WASECA, Minn. --  Thousands of carp died last month in Waseca County’s Lake Elysian because of a virus likely introduced by the release or escape of a pet goldfish or ornamental koi.

The University of Minnesota and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources determined koi herpesvirus was the main cause of the late June fish kill in southern Minnesota.

It was the first documented case of the virus in a wild fish population.

The virus doesn’t affect humans and isn’t believed to affect other fish species either.

Goldfish can be carriers of the virus but typically don’t show signs of the disease.


Craig Soupir, DNR’s Waterville area fisheries supervisor, said,  “What this incident tells us is the virus can be introduced by human action – a goldfish or koi was likely released from a home aquarium or pond into Lake Elysian or a connecting waterway.”

The DNR said releasing ornamental fish into the wild is illegal. Residents looking to dispose of exotic species are urged to contact their area DNR fisheries or wildlife office or local humane society.

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Neither descriptions of the suspect nor information on how many suspects may have been involved was provided by authorities.