CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service are set to begin rooting out heat-seeking Asian
carp that have made it past the Chicago area’s electric fish barrier system.
While DNA samples suggest that destructive silver or bighead Asian carp have
breached the barriers, no physical fish — dead or alive — has ever been
found on the other side of them, said Chris McCloud, spokesman for the
natural resources department.
Weather permitting, biologists will begin sampling in rivers and canals on
“We have got to find where these fish are at so we can hopefully validate
the (DNA) evidence,” McCloud said.
Crews will focus on areas where warm water from industrial operations enters
the waterways. Fish tend to congregate near the warmer water in the winter
as temperatures drop. Workers and fishermen will use commercial fishing nets
and electrofishing to search over the next two to three weeks, officials
In December, wildlife officials discovered a single Asian carp in a canal
leading to Lake Michigan, the nearest the species has come to the Great
Lakes. Environmentalists fear that if the carp reach the lakes they could
starve out native fish species and devastate a $7 billion-a-year fishing
industry. Carp can grow to 4 feet in length and 100 pounds.
Michigan has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to order Chicago-area shipping
locks closed, a request supported by Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio,
Pennsylvania and New York. Illinois opposes the closure. An Obama
administration proposal on controlling carp also rejects closing the locks.
Other plans to fight back against the carp include having commercial
fishermen help to thin out the populations in the waterways downstream from
Chicago, which will take some pressure off the electric barriers, McCloud