Carp found creeping closer to Lake Michigan
Springfield — Concern from carp watchers grew recently when crews from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discovered two juvenile Asian carp in the Illinois River – 12 miles closer to Lake Michigan than others of that size were previously witnessed.
Meanwhile, members of Congress are prodding federal officials to work faster on technological roadblocks that would prevent carp from reaching Lake Michigan – and eventually the other Great Lakes – through Chicago-area waterways.
On the river battle front, USFWS reported in October that two small silver carp about six inches in size were discovered in the Marseilles Pool of the Illinois near Seneca. The finding brings the leading edge of juvenile Asian carp about 66 miles closer to Lake Michigan than it was at the beginning of 2015.
Officials say there is still 76 miles of water, three locks and dams, and electric dispersal barriers between the juvenile carp and Lake Michigan.
The USFWS monitoring for juvenile Asian carp in the Illinois River, Des Plaines River, and the Chicago Area Waterway System takes place through sampling identified by the 2015 Monitoring and Response Plan by DNR, USFWS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and research organizations from throughout the state.
Experts said that the Asian carp is known for its appetite and competition for food can create havoc in the marine ecosystem. The carp can grow up to seven feet and could weigh up to 110 pounds. It eats up to 20 percent of its body weight daily. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, out of the four species – i.e. the bighead, black, grass and silver carp – the one that can cause particularly extensive damage is the silver carp. This fish species breeds quickly feeding on plankton needed by larval fish and mussels.
This could be a big problem for Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes, which is home to a fishing industry worth an estimated $7 billion. The size of an Asian carp and its ability to jump out of water in large groups can also become dangerous for the unsuspecting boaters.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow on Nov. 1 urged the Obama administration to take “immediate action” to respond to the threat of Asian carp after the latest USFWS discovery.
“I remain extremely concerned that Asian carp are getting closer and closer to Lake Michigan,” Stabenow, D-Mich., told the Associated Press. “Time is running out.”
As per record, Asian carp were first to the United States in the 1970s to filter algae out of catfish ponds on Arkansas fish farms. By the 1990s, they started spreading through much of the Mississippi River watershed and beyond.
DNR has been working with federal agencies to keep a close eye on the movements of the fish, especially in the state’s river system.