Monday, June 26, 2017

Asian carp found 9 miles from Lake Michigan, 34 miles closer than ever before

Asian carp (Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Federal officials report that a live silver carp has been discovered in the Calumet River, only nine miles away from Lake Michigan. That is 34 miles closer to the lake than silver carp have ever been found before, but U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say they believe the carp was probably a loner.

An electric barrier was installed years ago in a canal connecting the lake to the headwaters of the Illinois River to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes, but the lone fish was found by a commercial fisher about two miles below the T.J. O'Brien Lock and Dam in Chicago.

Silver carp are one of four species of Asian carp infesting the Mississippi River system. The fish compete with native plankton-eating species, which hurts local fishing industries. A study from the American Fisheries Society says that Asian carp would "decimate native species like walleye" if allowed to get into Lake Erie and other Great Lakes.

In the wake of the discovery, crews will be sent out to search the area where the carp was found for two weeks with nets and electric stunners. Biologists will examine the specimen to determine its point of origin, its sex, and if female, whether it has spawned.

Some members of Congress in the Great Lakes region want more barriers to keep Asian carp out, but Illinois lawmakers contend that such barriers would disrupt shipping.

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