November 20, 2009

Asian Carp At Great Lakes' Door

Bad news this week from the team trying to keep destructive alien fish species out of the Great Lakes - there is new evidence that asian carp may have made it to the brink of Lake Michigan - O'Brien Lock and Dam on the Calumet River.

Today's news:
New eDNA Monitoring Results Spurs Rapid Response Action

(Chicago) -- On November 17, the University of Notre Dame notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that some water samples, taken from the area between the electric barriers and Lake Michigan on September 23 and October 1, tested positive for the presence of Asian carp. The positive samples were from an area about one mile south of the O'Brien Lock, approximately 8 miles from Lake Michigan.

As part of its ongoing Asian carp monitoring program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to work with the university to use eDNA genetic testing of water samples to monitor the presence of bighead and silver carp in Chicago area waterways.

"Keeping Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan remains the focus and goal of the IDNR and the Rapid Response Work Group. We will continue to work with the group and our partners on how best to address this new issue and move forward with achieving our overall goal," said IDNR Assistant Director John Rogner.

The multi-agency rapid response team is working to develop appropriate courses of action based on this new information. Initial response actions will include focusing Asian carp eDNA sampling and other monitoring efforts on areas upstream of the barrier to gather near real-time data on the current location of Asian carp to aid the Rapid Response team in their planning efforts.

The Rapid Response Work Group is finalizing plans to apply rotenone to a section of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in early December as part of a scheduled fish barrier maintenance shut down.

“Scheduled barrier maintenance will proceed as planned,” said Major General John W. Peabody, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. “This new information reinforces the importance of preventing any further intrusion of the Asian carp via the largest pathway, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.”

Additional information about the recent sampling efforts is available on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' website at

Additional information about Asian carp and the Rapid Response Work Group members is at
There are not a lot of good options available at this point. All options are not certain to succeed, and also have negative side effects. Still, it seems we have little choice than to keep all options on the table to try to keep these voracious predators out of Lake Michigan and our Great Lakes.

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