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Asian Carp Caught in Lake Calumet

By Prescott Carlson in News on Jun 24, 2010 5:20PM

Photo via Illinois Department of Natural Resources
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has found new evidence that Asian carp have made it past electronic barriers and may be on their way to Lake Michigan. And it's more than a trace of fish DNA -- a commercial fisherman hired by the IDNR for sampling caught an honest-to-goodness live Asian carp, which measured in at 34.6 inches long and 19.6 pounds. It's the first Asian carp to be found past the barrier system. The sampling has been taking place since February of this year.

The spot where the carp was found is only six miles downstream of Lake Michigan. The fish were first introduced to U.S. waterways after flooding of fish farms in the Mississippi Delta forced the fish into the Mississippi river where they made their way upstream. They present a threat to native species because the carp can grow upwards of 100 pounds and quickly take over the ecosystem where they reside.

Calls to close the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes are sure to escalate after this new find, but that measure is still unlikely. In a statement released Wednesday, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Vincent Quarles said:

"The Army Corps of Engineers will continue to operate the locks and dams in the Chicago Area Waterway System for Congressionally authorized purposes of navigation, water diversion, and flood control. We will continue to support fish suppression activities by modifying existing structures such as locks as requested by other agencies to support this common goal. At this time there is no intention to close the locks."

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) was a bit more dramatic, calling the latest discovery "tragically predictable" and "extremely distressing." Miller has been leading the way in trying to pass legislation to close the Chicago Area Waterway System locks.