The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Missouri Department of Conservation are hoping to combine to study Asian carp in Missouri's Truman Lake, about 70 miles east of the Kansas border in central Missouri.
Jason Goeckler, Wildlife and Parks aquatic nuisance species coordinator, said the study could give the department clues if the fish could survive and reproduce in Kansas lakes.
Tim Banek, Missouri's invasive species coordinator, said no Asian carp have been officially confirmed in Truman, but he's had credible reports.
This spring, a 106-pound bighead carp was snagged in nearby Lake of the Ozarks.
Silver and bighead carp can out-compete native species for food. Silver carp have caused human injuries because they often jump as a boat passes nearby.
Goeckler said Truman Lake has the long, well-flowing tributaries that could provide good spawning habitat for Asian carp.
Some of the spawning could take place where the Marais des Cygne River is in Kansas. He said the study would search for adult and juvenile fish in Truman and its tributaries.
Goeckler said Asian carp in Kansas Lakes could lead to depletion in walleye and crappie populations in Kansas lakes by out-competing young fish for critical food.
"Science would indicate that they would be the first two species of sport fish to have their populations suffer," he said.
Asian carp became a problem when they escaped from aqua-culture farms in Arkansas about 35 years ago. They quickly spread up the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
High water last summer brought hundreds of thousands of young Asian carp up the Kansas River from the Missouri River.
Banek said similar migrations happened in many Missouri rivers.
Goeckler predicted another big push of fish into Kansas this summer because of high waters in the Missouri and Kansas rivers.
Illinois is trying to make the best of a bad situation in the Illinois River. It's the waterway with possibly the highest Asian carp population in the world.
In about four recent weeks of netting, five crews of commercial fishermen netted more than 100 tons of Asian carp from a stretch of the Illinois River about 40 miles long.
The state's trying to create a market for such fish. Kevin Irons, Illinois' aquatic nuisance species program manager, said many of the fish are being shipped to both coasts for human consumption.
It's a harder sell in the Midwest.
"We need markets to develop more in the central U.S.," he said. "Right now, carp is kind of a four-letter word when it comes to eating fish. These aren't scum-of-the-Earth fish. It can taste good and it's a good source of protein."
Irons said Illinois is continually searching for good uses for carp, including humanitarian aid.