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Invasive Asian Carp Caught Near Lake Michigan
The nightmare scenario of Asian carp entering the Great Lakes through Chicago waterways is closer to reality as the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee announced Wednesday the capture of an invasive bighead carp in Lake Calumet, six miles away from Lake Michigan.
The fish’s capture bolsters repeated environmental DNA tests which have shown that the carp have evaded an electrical barrier intended to prevent their movement out of canals artificially connecting the Great Lakes and Mississippi River system. Scientists and government regulators agree that the invasive fish pose a dire threat to the Lakes because of their size and voracious appetites.
Environmental groups throughout the Great Lakes have been advocating for quick action to impede the carp’s headlong swim towards Lake Michigan, even as federal officials and business interests have questioned the validity of cutting edge science that pointed to the invasive species’ presence.
News of Tuesday's capture brings a renewed call for more agile efforts to prevent the carp’s movement. Many organizations have called for hydrologic separation of the two systems, first outlined in a 2008 Alliance study, to ensure the movement of the carp and other invasive species is stopped. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently said that a study of this solution will take five to seven years.
"A year of DNA testing has shown the Asian carp are in the Chicago waterways, and now we know they're a hop, skip and jump from Lake Michigan," said Joel Brammeier, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "Invaders will stop at nothing short of bricks and mortar, and time is running short to get that protection in place."
The 34.6-inch-long, nearly 20-pound male fish was caught live by a commercial fisherman contracted by the Illinois DNR to conduct routine sampling in the area.
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Joint press release >>
IDNR’s statement >>
Asian carp fact sheet >>