Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

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Bait shops will be sampled for Asian carp DNA

Sandusky, Ohio — There is some good news on the Asian carp front as it pertains to Lake Erie.

No actual fish have been found during extensive surveys over the past month or so, said Rich Carter, administrator for fisheries management for the DNR Division of Wildlife.

The expansive search for carp will now turn its attention toward Ohio bait shops in and around Sandusky Bay.

Traces of environmental DNA of the invasive fish have been found in both Sandusky and Maumee bays, wildlife officials have said (Ohio Outdoor News, Sept. 14).

Since that finding, teams from the Ohio DNR, Michigan DNR, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been sampling the bays for indications of Asian carp.

“We’re sampling all areas of the [Sandusky] Bay with this round,” Carter said. “In the last round, we sampled randomly selected quadrants of the bay.”

Sandusky Bay is divided into eight quadrants for sampling purposes, Carter explained.

“We sampled some areas of the bay and the Sandusky River with the last round, and we’ll be sampling all areas of the bay this time,” he said.

The Ohio and Michigan DNRs will also be sampling bait stores as part of the latest round of testing, Carter said.

“We’re expanding [the sampling] to include bait stores to determine whether this is a potential source of environmental DNA,” Carter said. “It’s not a random sample. We’ll sample as many bait stores as we can.”

Typically at this time of year, DNR fisheries crews are finishing up surveys for young-of-the-year fish to determine the success of the spring spawn. The search for Asian carp has turned attention in an entirely different direction, however.

“It’s put a lot of work on our crews,” Carter said. “We have been fortunate to gain the assistance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and they have been invaluable in our sampling for this species. [The] Michigan [DNR] has also been participating in the search.”

Results from eDNA sampling in Maumee Bay are not yet complete, Carter said, although initial testing did show Asian carp eDNA there also.

There are several possibilities of where the eDNA came from, said Carter. First is from live fish, which have not been found in the most recent testing. The second potential source is from bird excrement that may have fallen in from the Ohio River drainage. The third possibility is from bait bucket introductions.

Scientists will continue to look at all probable points of entry for Asian carp as the testing continues in earnest.

Funding for the effort comes from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

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