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Another Day, Another Great Lake Threatened by Asian Carp

By JoshMogerman in News on Jul 3, 2010 7:00PM

Larry Bird. Blue popcorn. Asian carp. What do they have in common?

All were spawned in Indiana.

Late this week news began to dribble out that Indiana wildlife officials had stumbled upon Asian carp spawning in the Wabash River. The invasive fish made its way into the river from the Ohio years ago, but their presence further upriver and the expanding population implied by lots of itty-bitty carp have triggered concern that yet another Great Lake is now threatened. Flooding events regularly connect the Wabash and Maumee Rivers via smaller waterways and flood plains. The Maumee flows directly into Lake Erie near Toledo, OH.

Though he conceded it is only a remote possibility, John Goss, retired Indiana Department of Natural Resources director, told The Blade yesterday that federal officials should not overlook how carp got into the western part of the Hooiser State about five years ago and are now in Indiana's Wabash River, making their way toward Fort Wayne.

Though the Wabash isn't connected to the Maumee, the two rivers are in the same floodplain and come within a couple of miles of each other. If Fort Wayne were to experience a major flood, carp in the Wabash could get into the Maumee, Mr. Goss said.

Flooding events unleashed the Asian carp into the Mississippi River decades ago, setting this entire drama into motion.

Though no official statement has been released by the agencies of the Asian Carp Response Group, the Detroit Free-Press reports that the Army Corps of Engineers will dispatch staffers to evaluate the problem next week. A tour of the impacted areas was hastily arranged for members of Congress earlier this week. The concern from lawmakers will likely bolster efforts to move the Permanent Prevention of Asian Carp Act of 2010, championed by Senators Durbin and Stabenow. Earlier this week a large coalition of conservation groups petitioned the White House to intervene directly in the ongoing carp saga by appointing a "Carp Czar" to better coordinate, communicate and speed up federal efforts to stop the invasion.

While this is horrible news for the region, it does offer the a chance to see the reaction of politicians and press in Ohio and Indiana who seemed very happy to lash out when the carp were viewed as an “Illinois problem.” Speaking of Illinois problems, check out this video of the carp infestation near Starved Rock State Park (it gets good a minute in, but is NSFW due to some very Blagojevich-ian language):