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One Is The Loneliest Carp

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Dec 4, 2009 3:20PM

Yesterday, we curiously awaited the number of Asian carp the Illinois Department of Natural Resources killed with their poisoning of the the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville. This morning, after they sifted through thousands of dead fish, we know the number: One. But this is actually good news. The poisoning project - which lasts three days and will cost around $3 million (the federal government is covering most of the cost) - is designed as a last ditch effort to prevent the invasive species from making it into Lake Michigan and wreaking havoc not only there but throughout the Great Lakes while maintenance work is performed on electric barriers in the canal. John Rogner, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said, "It's not something that anyone going into a career in fisheries-management looks forward to, but we thought it was an absolutely essential step. This is the closest to Lake Michigan the natural body has been collected."

The carp that wound up belly-up was only 40 miles from making it. And there could be more amongst the thousands of fish killed, but the fact that there's just a single carp to be found means the fish haven't made the trek en masse. Yet. The Trib reports that the data collected this week will help researchers figure out how reliable the DNA samples discovered beyond the electric barrier actually are and if many carp have made it past. Illinois DNR spokesman Chris McCloud said, "The bottom line is we have to know what we're dealing with. We have to know where they are and how many there are." Researchers have already begun dumping a detoxifying agent into the canal. Maintenance work on the electric barrier is expected to be wrapped up the weekend and officials hope to have the canal reopened Sunday.

As for reports that the state of Michigan is looking to file a lawsuit to close up Chicago area locks and prevent the potential spread of the carp, Gov. Quinn downplayed any friction, saying, "[Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm] commissioned her attorney general to look at everything. We're all working together."