INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to collect water
samples this spring from two northwestern Indiana rivers that flow into Lake
Michigan as part of its ongoing efforts to track the spread of invasive
Major Gen. John Peabody of the Army Corps’ Cincinnati office said samples
will be taken from Indiana’s portions of the Grand Calumet and Little
Calumet rivers once ice melts and fish become more active.
“Our intent is to aggressively sample when warmer weather and higher fish
activity returns. The fish don’t move a whole lot in the wintertime,”
Peabody said Wednesday.
The Corps hopes to have a plan in place with the Indiana Department of
Natural Resources within two months to sample water in the rivers, which
flow into Lake Michigan.
Asian carp, primarily the bighead and silver varieties, have been migrating
up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers toward the Great Lakes for decades
and have swarmed waterways near Chicago leading to Lake Michigan.
Environmentalists fear the Great Lakes’ fishing industry will be devastated
if the ravenous species takes hold because Asian carp devour the plankton
that are the base of the Great Lakes food chain.
The Corps has been scouring Great Lakes waterways for Asian carp DNA — in
fish excrement, slime and other materials — to track the species’ movement.
Federal officials said Tuesday that Asian carp DNA had been found for the
first time in the lake at Calumet Harbor in Illinois, which is close to the
Indiana state line.
No live or dead Asian carp have been spotted in the lake yet.
To date, Peabody said about 1,100 samples have been taken from Great Lakes
waterways and about 700 had been analyzed, with about 5 percent coming back
positive for Asian carp DNA.
All of the samples are being analyzed by a University of Notre Dame
laboratory run by David Lodge, a professor of biological sciences whose lab
is equipped with sophisticated genetic analysis tools.
Lodge said his staff and others, including volunteers from The Nature
Conservancy, “has more than kept up” with the Army Corps’ schedule for
analyzing the samples. The federal agency is paying for the testing of the
Once more money becomes available, Lodge said his lab will be able to
complete analysis of about 400 samples that Peabody said are pending.
Lodge said the tools he uses in his lab are similar to what crime
investigators use. They scour the water samples for trace genetic materials,
which he says he suspects comes from fish waste in most cases. Positive test
results don’t reveal the extent or presence of carp population in any
particular waterway, he said.
And he said it’s unclear what the impact would be if the Asian carp
establish a foothold in the Great Lakes.
“It’s a bit like playing Russian roulette with the Great Lakes. The harm
could be relatively small, certainly in some parts of the Great Lakes, but
it’s very easy to imagine some catastrophic results for fisheries in at
least part of the Great Lakes,” Lodge said.
Indiana DNR spokesman Phil Bloom said Wednesday that while Indiana has only
about 43 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service estimates the state’s sports fishing industry on the lake generates
$5 million to $6 million annually.
Last year, the state stocked more than 1 million sport fish — coho and
Chinook salmon, steelhead and brown trout, perch and smallmouth bass — in
the lake and Indiana tributaries.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The White House wants to hold a meeting next month
with Great Lakes governors concerned about Asian carp invading the lakes.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality suggested Wednesday that
the meeting be held the first week of February in the Midwest or Washington.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s spokeswoman says the governor looks
forward to the meeting.
The governors of Michigan and Wisconsin requested a summit Tuesday after the
U.S. Supreme Court rejected Michigan’s request for a preliminary injunction
to shut the shipping locks near Chicago temporarily and work out a way to
stop the carp.
taken beyond the final barriers between Chicago-area waterways and Lake
Michigan have tested positive for the aggressive fish.