You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Destructive 20-pound carp pulled from pond at West Park in Ann Arbor

By Amy Biolchini


The pond in Ann Arbor's West Park Friday morning, where workers from the city's Natural Areas Preservation program removed a 20-pound common carp that had been lurking there for months.

Amy Biolchini |

Ann Arbor employees removed a 20-inch-long, 20-pound common carp destroying the vegetation in a small pond in Ann Arbor’s West Park Friday morning.

Workers from the city’s Natural Areas Preservation program fished out the carp that had been reportedly lurking in the pond for months and released it into the Huron River Friday.

“We know the only way it got there is someone put it there,” said Lara Treemore-Spears, natural area technician for the NAP program.


The 20-inch-long carp that had been living in the pond at Ann Arbor's West Park.

Courtesy of NAP staff

The West Park pond and wetland areas were constructed in 2010 by the city as a basin for storm water control, and are not connected to a larger water body.

“As a closed system, it has a limited carrying capacity for fish,” Treemore-Spears said.

Carp are fairly common, but in a small pond like the one in West Park, they can be extremely destructive. They survive by eating the small animals and plants that live in the mud at the bottom of rivers and lakes.

The mechanism by which they feed is the most damaging: They suck up the mud from the bottom of the body of water, and then spit out the parts that they don’t want.

Treemore-Spears said there are goldfish in the pond that were likely dumped there as well by people, and that aquarium gravel has been observed on the banks of the pond.

“The system is in a careful balance to get it to function with the storm water inputs,” Treemore-Spears said. “If people are always bringing in fish, they’re not only exceeding the capacity of the pond, they could be bringing in diseases with them.”

The city’s NAP program intended to let the ecology of the pond develop naturally, Treemore-Spears said, and the program has not placed any native species of fish in the pond.

Fish will likely make their way to the small body of water as wading birds like great blue herons and others deposit fish eggs that stick to their feet as they fly from one body of water to the next, Treemore-Spears said.

The city’s Natural Area Preservation program department consulted the Michigan Department of Natural Resources about what to do with the carp that was removed. The DNR said the carp should be destroyed, but NAP workers decided to release it into the Huron River.

Todd Kalish, Lake Erie Basin coordinator for the DNR, said it’s illegal to transfer a fish from any public body of water to another without a permit.

“I think (the staff) became somewhat attached to relocating animals after all of NAP's turtle relocation efforts on Leslie Park Golf Course this fall, and it was difficult in the moment to distinguish between that activity and this one,” Treemore-Spears said in an emailed statement. “We would not have moved (the carp) to the Huron River if we had any reason to think it would cause similar problems there. “

The common carp is plentiful in the Huron River.

“Common carp can have negative impacts on native species: They can be extremely prolific because they lay a lot of eggs and many are successful, so they can out-compete other desirable species,” Kalish said. “They do a lot of rooting of vegetation and sediment. When they spawn, they cause a lot of siltation in the water.”

Kalish said the common carp — a species of Asian carp — are not as destructive as the also invasive silver carp and bighead carp that have infiltrated the Mississippi River and are being prevented from entering the Great Lakes by a controversial electronic barrier in Chicago.


Newly constructed storm water retention features Friday morning on the west side of West Park in Ann Arbor.

Amy Biolchini |

Carp can live in streams, lakes and reservoirs in areas with relatively harsh conditions like low oxygen — an indicator of an unhealthy ecosystem — or large temperature fluctuations. The West Park pond is about four feet deep, and Treemore-Spears said it's possible the carp would have been able to survive the winter there.

For young carp, predators include large fish like northern pike and largemouth bass, as well as birds like great blue herons. Adult carp have no predators except for humans.

The West Park pond was built in 2010 by the city through a $1.59 million storm water management project. The initial construction apparently did not solve all of West Park's drainage issues, as nearby residents complained in 2011 that their homes were still flooding. The city approved $27,700 in August to fix part of the park near North Seventh Street.

Overall, Treemore-Spears said the efforts at West Park to create a storm water control basin have been going well and that many wetland species have been sighted already in the park.

View Larger Map

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

I think the sculpture/fountain at city hall needs a koi pond. The fish could've lived there. We could've named him "Big John" after our mayor.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

So, that is the official fish dumping location now.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 2:56 a.m.

A 20-inch long carp that weighs 20 pounds is much like an 83-pound newborn human, in that it is nature's way of telling us something's wrong here. Could this fish in fact be one of the extremely rare so-called Plutonium Carp, originally found only in certain cooling ponds at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Testing Grounds & Recycling Center? Whiskers are an identifying characteristic, and extreme density.

Frustrated in A2

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 1:45 a.m.

Why ask for expert advice if you're going to do what you want to do anyway. I have a feeling the DNR know what they're doing.


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 11:05 p.m.

A 20" carp would weigh MAYBE 6 or 7 pounds. Someone heard wrong...

Amy Biolchini

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

I asked the NAP staff how long the fish was and how much it weighed, and their answer was about 20 inches long and about 20 pounds.

Joe Smith

Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

As an environmental-minded individual, and a volunteer and supporter of NAP, yes, I am disappointed in what appears in this article to be a legal misstep. I'd like to inquire if the information presented is accurate and see what they (NAP) have to say further. I know NAP to be a knowledgeable, environmentally focused, and responsible branch of our government funding. I'd like to hear further explanation from them. Might just be a rogue employee and they are dealing with it within. I'm highly doubtful NAP decided collectively to do this.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:22 a.m.

Maybe they figured the fish was too big to flush down the toilet, so they had to release it in the river!

Ann English

Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 1:34 a.m.

I take it that the goldfish put into the pond were allowed to stay there; it's a good idea to have goldfish in ponds so that the mosquito larvae laid on it get eaten instead of growing up and becoming pests.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Frogs & other amphibians eat mosquito larvae but don't pollute the water as much as a large number of small fish or a small number of large fish.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

Whoa, he a big boy!!!!!!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Mosquitoes breeding pond, brought to you by the City of Ann Arbor and OFF.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

A 20 inch carp is not 20lbs.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

And you've never told a whopper about the one that got away? All fishermen exaggerate. It's part of the fun.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

This article describes an illegal activity carried out by a city employee. I am planning to report this violation to the Michigan DNR. For anyone else interested the Michigan DNR hotline is 1-800-292-7800. In addition to the illegal activity of transferring and invasive fish from one public body of water to another, it would be interesting to know if this employee had a fishing license and if this employee captured the fish using a lawful method? Was the fish caught on hook and line, or netted?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

Wow! I find it hard to believe that a government employee would willingly break the law by saving the life of a fish that was destroying natural habitat. Government employees don't break laws - they create laws that all others must adhere to. Go figure!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

Consider yourselves lucky that all they did was move the fish. This is Ann Arbor so it could have easily led to a "fish task force" and a hundred grand in fish consultants. And quit your carping.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

"Destructive Carp" Seen writing grafitti on walls, breaking windows, throwing eggs at cars.

Unusual Suspect

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

" grafitti on walls, breaking windows, throwing eggs at cars." That's destructive CRAP, not destructive CARP.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Add me to the list of people who are flabbergasted by the release of this carp into Huron River. The DNR said "No". I would have said "H*ll no!" And yet the NAP thought they knew better. On the other hand, I wonder how many people would be outraged if they knew the carp had been destroyed per DNR's instructions. NAP couldn't win in this situation but they had their marching orders and should have followed them. I hope DNR gets wind of this and has the authority to fine 'em.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

@Mick52 Apparently you didn't see the posting just previous to mine.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

People outraged by the death of a fish?

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Leave the god damn fish alone!!! God, what is wrong with this city???


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

The pond was filled with native aquatic wildflowers, there to both help clean the water and add beauty to the park. The carp (and muskrats) destroyed many of the plants.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

So what??? What do you think WE do!!!!!! I think next time i see a person DESTROYING grass, ia m going to hold 'em up by the face and take a picture of them for the


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

the god damn fish was destroying the vegetation!!!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

A 20" carp does not weigh 20 pounds. 4-6 pounds at most. Also, DNR should fine the employee who released this fish into the Huron River.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Really? And how much did it cost to catch and release the invasive carp into the Huron River? Only in Ann Arbor. I never cease being amazed!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

Bulkheading the pipes means no more usage...lets add up how much these hydrodynamic separators that failed cost and the labor to install. So the design/build team and city lost all that money too which Im sure is over the 100,000s....this should have been covered by a warranty for this vendor cost and the labor to install....any answers City of Ann Arbor? Ill be calling you Monday morning.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

typical politician answer to the question


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Janis I would feel much better if you had said...that the majority of the stormwater improvements were paid for by a grant from JAPAN obtained by my office on the city's behalf. Anytime someone obtains a grant from the Federal government, they act like that was money from heaven INSTEAD of tax payers!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

this to me reads Janis that the vendor did not pay all costs of replacement and installation...this reads to me that the local taxpayers paid! "City officials said a sixth change order in the amount of $27,776 was needed to make the site safe after the failure of one of the hydrodynamic separators, but that brings the contract amount above the 10 percent contingency originally approved by council in 2009. "This sixth change order directed remove the weir from the diversion structure, and bulkhead of the pipes to prevent backwater from entering the structures downstream," reads a staff memo to council."


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Thank you for clarification on vendor warranty. Now if you can explain the change order to taxpayers instead of paying with the construction bonds for repairs that should be on the design/contractors for failure of the system. Was this the public's fault? If its a federal grant, why are local taxpayers paying for this change order? Sounds like double dipping into my wallet.

Janis Bobrin

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

The vendor did pay all costs of the replacement hydrodynamic separators and all cost associated with installation. The company acknowledged its error in failing to manufacture the devices to specifications. The bulkheads have been removed from the pipes, and the system is now functional. The article did not note that the majority of the stormwater improvements were paid for by a federal grant obtained by my office on the city's behalf


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

I must have missed the update in Aug to the 1.5 million West Park mess up but just read the link now.... "City officials said a sixth change order in the amount of $27,776 was needed to make the site safe after the failure of one of the hydrodynamic separators, but that brings the contract amount above the 10 percent contingency originally approved by council in 2009. "This sixth change order directed remove the weir from the diversion structure, and bulkhead of the pipes to prevent backwater from entering the structures downstream," reads a staff memo to council." This is blantant abuse of public funds. The contractor had insurance for failure of systems, the city had contruction bonds for this purpose, the engineering firm had insurance for failures, this project is not closed out, why are we using OUR money to fix it Ann Arbor? Do you job.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 11:35 p.m.

the reason this makes me ask questions on this change order is 30,000 with benefits is a great starting salary for a new graduate but we have too many old people on double, sometimes triple public pension plans that are retired and have no understanding what a young family could do for their children with that 30,000 change order....Ann Arbor City is so out in the wrong here and dont know who would really benefit this savings in OUR money.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

add me to the list of people who think the city shouldn't thumb their noses at State regulations.

Fred Pettit

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

Me too. I've emailed the Mayors office and council, and they just say that they won't do it again. There should be some community service and permanently on their record. They knowingly and willingly broke the law....Can you say Carp Gate? Sure ya can.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:11 a.m.

..and me...I've been saying that many of our City officials seem to be quite arrogant...they think they know more/better than anyone else!!! I agree that these individuals should be fined and or fired!! or both!!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:59 a.m.

Does anyone remember the big "carp kill" in the early 70's in the Huron River? A chemical that killed off fish by removing oxygen was attempted and literally thousands of dead carp floated to the surface. Barton pond in the 50's and 60's had great walleye fishing in front of the sailing club. Carp will always rule in the Huron River. Nice article Amy.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

Yes, they have used various methods over the years. Barton Pond still does have good fishing per my brother. Just hard to get to in a boat. That is probably the reason why.

Deborah Gibson

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:40 a.m.

Great article Amy. I missed the West Park eco-action and was glad for the accurate reporting. I hadn't seen the carp feeding, but my grandson and I were in the muskrats' audience. He loved the close-up view. The water garden has been a gift to the entire eco-community.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:40 a.m.

Poor old thing. Just look at that face.

Michael Bow

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

Wait a second, carp an invasive species. Should they have killed it? Where I'm from, it is illegal to release an invasive species into a waterway.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:27 a.m.

Totally Stupid and Illegal for City of AA employees to release the rogue Carp into our Huron River. "Todd Kalish, Lake Erie Basin coordinator for the DNR, said it's illegal to transfer a fish from any public body of water to another without a permit." I hope the DNR will fine the City of Ann Arbor for this totally stupid decision. There is No reason under God's Green Heaven for placing this Huge Trash Fish into our Beloved Huron River!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Because they are responsible for their employees. Just like when colleges get penalties when coaches and players violate NCAA rules. The city should then fire the employees.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

Don't fine the city. Fine the employees. Why should a2 taxpayers pay the fine?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:56 a.m.

Thanks so much for the carp. We didn't have any in Ford Lake, so I will make sure to protect "my little buddy" next summer. I'm so excited! I've never seen a carp before!

dading dont delete me bro

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:03 a.m.

"The DNR said the carp should be destroyed, but NAP workers decided to release it into the Huron River. Todd Kalish,Lake Erie Basin coordinator for the DNR, said it's illegal to transfer a fish from any public body of water to another without a permit." irresponsible on NAP workers part... as a sportsman, i get fined for not following DNR rules/regulations...


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:45 a.m.

I wonder how many people even knew West Park had a body of water this large? Thanks for an informative article.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7 p.m.

DJ, I think a good many people knew about this pond. last summer, there was a family of ducks living there, and I used to go down there on a regular basis to check on their progress. good to watch them grow, kind of sad to see them leave. oh well. c'est la vie.

Terry Star21

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:53 a.m.

Guilty ! And what a beautiful picture (up top) by Amy (and article). Ann Arbor and areas have wonderful nature (land/water/wildlife) areas like this. Not always real visible and not always a feel good story introducing some of them - but this was one. Thanks Amy.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:23 a.m.

Yes I agree this is an interesting article. However, are we glossing over that these folks broke the law, even after the DNR told them what to do with that monster? Maybe it's just me, but I prefer municipal employees follow the law and not ignore some at a whim.

Frustrated in A2

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

I agree with you Mick52 and Ron.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

Silly, the carp can join the thousands of other carp in the Huron River. In reality just big goldfish. When I was a kid they would periodically eradicate them in the Huron. I seem to recall something about setting off explosions....I felt sorry for the carp, of course. Let the poor guy live, he's made it this far.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 11:13 a.m.

Mick I have to agree with you on this. Had it been a private citizen doing that , the tickets would start flying and who knows, maybe even criminal charges too. The employees asked the DNR what to do and they said destroy it. If you can't handle doing the job and following what the DNR said to do, then maybe you should find another job and let someone else who CAN handle it take over. Maybe the mayor got word and told the employees to just put it in the river. I hope the DNR comes in and does an investigation and gives the city a big fat fine for doing wrong.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

The carps punishment was to sit through a council meeting. Never again!


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

Bugle mouth Bass.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

Carpzilla for Mayor!!!


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:14 p.m.

Them are good eatin'!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.



Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

Smoked is best.

Unusual Suspect

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

If you like oily meat, yeah.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

uh...not really imo.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:08 p.m.

Thanks for the article Amy. It would have been best had someone not planted the carp there. Full disclosure - I asked the hard-working naturalists not to kill the 18 inch pond resident. They were kind enough to consider an alternative. It's worth noting that there were also some muskrats "working on" the aquatic plants that were planted in the pond. I believe they swam up the Allen's Creek from the Huron River and established a hangout there. Fascinating to watch. But they do what muskrats do - "working on" (eating and gathering) the cattails and other plants. I understand they tried to trap muskrats at other locations (along the Detroit River-walk, for instance)- but they just kept coming back and eating the newly re-planted aquatic plants. I suspect the same thing would occur here. Also, I know it is not the proper thing to put non-native fish (the 2 to 3 inch gold and grey-brown fish- I assume they are not native to Michigan) in there, but blue herons/cranes fly in regularly to catch meals of fish. It is marvelous to see those big birds fly in and stalk and catch the fish. A large hawk also comes out on the thin pond ice. I assume its studying the potential meals below. Thank you to the City of Ann Arbor for the pond. I thank you. The fish thank you. The birds thank you. The amphibians thank you.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

the baby ducks thank you too!!

Pamela Bethune

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Unfortunately you asked them to violate the law. You helped to place them in a poor position for the sake of a fish which is an invasive species. The native fish do not salute you.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

I'll try a shark next.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:44 a.m.

Released it into the river? You've got to be kidding! That carp should not have been set loose anywhere! Do you really believe that it wouldn't damage the Huron River ecosystem also? Sure there are already carp in the river, but adding another is not helping any other species of fish that may be trying to survive there.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

'Destroying the vegetation' in a small pond isn't always bad for the ecosystem of the pond, though I'm sure that was looked at....anyone think of having it for dinner? Some carp can be good if prepared right, but fish from ponds aren't always the healthiest, I suppose.....


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

Personally, I think this is the best article that has put up in a long while. The information, pictures, and overall article is presented neatly and well, and it isn't some crappy, front-page news, poorly written articles that garners dozens of nasty comments. Well done, Amy.

Unusual Suspect

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

To say this is the best article in a long while isn't crappy is to bash them for other stories. So, you just made a nasty comment.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

Ditto. This was pretty interesting.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

We initially heard about this story from someone who said workers pulled an Asian carp out of the West Park pond. The DNR confirmed that the fish that workers removed is a common carp, which is a type of invasive Asian carp, but a less destructive species and not the silver carp or bighead carp that many are concerned will invade the Great Lakes and cause massive environmental damage. Common carp have been in Michigan waterways for a while. It sounds like this fish has been in the pond for months and many people have noticed it. Has anyone nicknamed it yet?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Amy, have you seen On Golden Pond? I called him "Walter"

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.