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Asian Carp Found Near Lake Michigan Puts Great Lakes At Risk

By Kayla Martinez | June 26, 2017 11:48am | Updated on June 30, 2017 11:33am
 The Asian Carp poses threat to the Great Lakes.
The Asian Carp poses threat to the Great Lakes.
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Illinois Department of Natural Resources

CHICAGO — The Great Lake's ecosystem could be in danger after an Asian carp fish was found just 9 miles from Lake Michigan.

The silver carp is a non-native species to the Great Lakes and the fish are "voracious filter feeders," eating huge volumes of food including algae and plankton. This could lead to the species quickly out-competing the native species of the lakes and damaging the ecosystem.

The live carp was pulled out of the Calumet River, according to the Tribune.

To remove the carp is “virtually impossible” and prevention is the only way to remove them, said Jennifer Caddick, vice-president of communications and engagement for Alliance for the Great Lakes.

“Silver and bighead carp are the most concerning species that have been able to establish themselves in the water and move up in the waterways,” Caddick said.

Regional committees are in charge for monitoring for the carp in waterways leading to Lake Michigan, including electrical barriers that keep them out.

Through routine monitoring efforts, the 8-pound adult silver carp was found and taken to Southern Illinois University for analysis.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth have both expressed their concern over the carp's discovery. They have urged the Trump organization to release a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers analysis on how to prevent the Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes and have not received a response since April.

“If this invasive species reaches the Great Lakes, it could cause significant economic losses and irreversible damage to the ecosystem, and threaten the drinking water of 20 million Americans,” Durbin said in a statement.

The Asian carp is native to China and surrounding areas and was originally brought in for aquaculture use in Louisiana. Initially, their purpose was to eat algae that develops over time in ponds to control algae problems. Many of these ponds were near the Mississippi River, which suffered a flood in which the carp spilled over on to into the river.

In the past eight years, this is the second carp found near the electric dispersal barriers. The last was a bighead carp found in Lake Calumet in 2010.