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No Asian carp found in poison zone

May 25, 2010 at 06:27 AM

AP Environmental Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A poisoning operation aimed at rooting out the voracious Asian carp in a Chicago-area river before they make their way into the Great Lake didn’t turn up any of the unwanted fish, Illinois officials said Monday.

Officials said more than 100,000 pounds of dead fish had been collected since the poisoning five days ago. They say the operation suggests few if any Asian carp are near a shipping lock that Michigan and neighboring states want closed for fear it could provide an opening to Lake Michigan. Scientists had detected genetic material from the carp in the area.

Federal agencies and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources spread Rotenone, a chemical toxic to fish, along a 2.5-mile section of the Little Calumet River on Chicago’s South Side on Thursday.

They also temporarily closed the T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam, despite objections from shippers whose vessels regularly use the structure. It will reopen in a da y or two, DNR spokesman Chris McCloud said.

Fish representing more than 40 species were found after the poisoning, but no bighead or silver carp - Asian varieties that have been migrating up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers toward the Great Lakes for decades. Scientists say if they establish breeding populations in the lakes, they could disrupt the food chain and devastate the $7 billion fishing industry.

“We now know that if Asian carp exist near the ... O’Brien Lock, they exist in very low numbers,” said John Rogner, assistant director of the Illinois DNR.

The poisoning was ordered because the river segment is among places where biologists have found Asian carp DNA beyond an electronic barrier about 20 miles downstream from Chicago.

No actual bighead or silver cap, alive or dead, have turned up past the barrier despite extensive searches. But officials in Michigan and other Great Lakes states used the DNA results as evidence when unsuccessfully petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to close the Chicago shipping locks.

Illinois business interests have questioned the reliability of the DNA screening methods, developed by biologists with the University of Notre Dame and The Nature Conservancy.

Jim Farrell, executive director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Infrastructure Council, said the fish kill results show that Asian carp have not breached the barrier.

“I’m glad we got the proof we needed to move the battle 40 miles downstream from Lake Michigan” to waters known to be infested with carp, he said.

McCloud said government agencies still believe the DNA tests reveal the presence of Asian carp genetic material but don’t explain how it got there or how many fish might be in the area.

The next step is to analyze results of the poisoning mission “to see if we can draw any further conclusions about the risk of carp invading and becoming established in Lake Michigan through the Chicago waterway system,” he said.

Joel Brammeier, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, said DNA screening remains the most reliable means of detecting Asian carp.

“The overwhelmingly likely explanation for this material being in the water is that it’s coming off fish,” he said.

Also Monday, more than a dozen U.S. senators from Great Lakes states called for a study of building a physical barrier between the lakes and the Mississippi River watershed that would prevent species from migrating from one system to the other.

In a letter to the Environment and Public Works Committee, the senators asked Congress to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct the analysis.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

it is in the chicago political bs they sample. I am going to WI this weekend smallmouth fishing I will talk to some of the locals and get their thoughts

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/25 at 10:40 AM

They killed off 100,000 lbs of fish and act like its no big deal. WTF!!!? Honestly. Am I the only one that thinks this is unacceptable? Who’s idea was it and why didnt we get a vote?

I’ll tell you what, with the way prices are increasing for hunting/fishing license/tags and knowing that 1.) such poor decisions are being made by uninformed and undereducated dept leaders and 2.) no matter how much they raise our fees to enjoy OUR wildlife the bulk of the revenue generated by the increase will NOT go to the DNR but other state programs that pertain to wildlife man’t in no way shape or form, I’m preping for a move out of this state. How long are we going to sit idle while our state gov’t wh0re’s out our natural resources, closes OUR state parks, raise license and tag fee’s with no intention of cycling that revenue influx into DNR programs….???? How long?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/28 at 09:54 AM

“...start slinging any and every kind of poison…” ?
I don’t like the way things go in our state, but making irrational over-statements like that doesn’t get you any credibility or garner any sympathy from those that are in power.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/28 at 11:02 PM

We had one of the biggest fish kills in Illinois history here on the Rock River and they have only stocked it once. The railroad has still did nothing to stock are fish. The Rock was until last year one of the best catfish, flathead and walleye places to fish. Its very sad to see nothing done. Were having the Cabelas King Kat tourney in a couple of weeks. The river in certain areas is dead far as catfish. We had a meeting with a fishing bioligist and it was sickening. The political statements and no future restocking program was enough for most of us. Most fish as you guys know take years to grow, catfish is 2 iches a year. Dan Seele said the river will rebound, yea in 20 years. The 20 year old flatheads are gone. If the stae cannot afford to stock more than at least come up with some type of program to bring them from the mississippi river more than a one time deal.IDNR has failed on this matter.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/29 at 09:35 AM

It’s very unfortunate the fish kill had to take place.  I work for an agency involved with these exercises. Ask anyone in the IDNR in private about this matter and they will tell you the top IDNR chiefs are being told to conduct these efforts as a “CYA” due to the lawsuit threats.  The multiple efforts are showing other states that the Asian Carp hasn’t passed the barrier.  The DNA testing method is a weak and unproven science but other states are jumping on the issue as a scare tactic.  The biggest threat is the Asian Carp migrating through Lake Michigan, where it has limited shallow water habitat and no heavy concentrations of zooplankton to survive.  However, many shallower and healthy connecting tributaries could become infested like our state’s down stream waters if the fish keep migrating through Lake Michigan.  As for Rotenone, it isn’t truly a poison that can affect the water or us.  A person can actually eat fish killed by Rotenone.  In simple terms it causes an enzymatic reaction in fish that doesn’t allow oxygen to be absorbed through their gills.  The fish suffocate.  Its sad that the surrounding states are threatening these silly lawsuits instead of working with IL and other southern states to solve the
Asian and Big Head Carp problem.  If they want to sue someone, they should be suing the fish hatcheries in Arkansas that raised the non-sterilized grass carp that escaped from their hatcheries when the Mississippi River flooded them in the 90’s and introduced the fish into free flowing waters.  Selling non-native, exotic species to “solve” a problem always leads to control problems.  My main point, don’t bash the IDNR over this issue.  They are covering the state’s rearend for future lawsuits from surrounding states.  There’s no reason IL should be sued over this matter, but some liberal judge will find a way to point the blame at IL because the fish were in our waters before they crossed state lines.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/29 at 08:38 PM

Murdy, I’m too familiar with the lawsuits and reasons behind it. For correction, Asian Carp would likely do little direct impact to the Great Lakes fishery.  Indirectly, it’s the other warmer, shallower and plankton rich tributaries and feeder lakes that would take the hit when the invader carp find the suitable habitat.  I’m all for doing whatever it takes to stop the carp invasion, but it’s an impossible challenge.  They will invade upstream waters at some point no matter what action is taken.  They can build all of the electrical and physical barriers they want to waste money on, but the Asian Carp will find their way upstream.  Dams and other structures haven’t stopped them to date.  For example, fishermen use throw nets to catch shad for bait from various water bodies.  A juvenile Asian Carp mixed in a net full of shad looks nearly identical.  Fishermen unknowingly throw unused shad and juvenile Asian Carp into the different waters where they transport them at the end of the day.  This has happened at several of our land locked lakes.  There are lots of laws that ban using throw nets to catch bait in waters containing Asian and Big Head Carp, but it still happens just like poaching or breaking the speed limit.  There are other ways Asian Carp have passed into upstream waters blocked by various barriers, but I’m not listing them here to give someone with a deviant mind ideas on methods to introduce them.

I understand your concern, but I don’t see the logic in your statement that Chicago, Illinois and the Feds are resisting the suit; unless you still think there’s some “magical”  barrier that will stop them.  Spending millions of dollars to study and install a barrier that will fail its intended purpose will do significant damage to natural aquatic life passage and migration for other species.  If Asian Carp enter Michigan or other states with the barrier in place, then those states should also be held responsible for containing a determinant and uncontrollable species from migrating by your logic. 

Let’s make a deal.  The surrounding states and Ontario must sign an agreement to pay for all IL attorney fees, studies and the multi-million dollar barrier cost if it fails to halt the introduction of Asian Carp.  They also must pay for the barrier’s removal when it fails.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/30 at 10:11 AM

Ranger I do understand that the IDNR cannot just flip a coin and everthing is done. We as sportsmans deserve better treatment. All we want is a plan to restock are waters. Stocking once is a political statement stating that we restocked the river. We all know the mortality rate of stocking new fish. They were way off on the extent of the kill, It was spilled in the Kishwakee river and there saying it did not effect the river until Grand Detour? They didn’t even do net studies in between those two places. Theres a big strech of river between Grand Detour and the mouth of the Kishwakeee. Why buy a fishing license anymore? What are we paying for? IDNR to check for flotation devices in your boat. We have a very large river near by its called the Mississippi river, there is no excuse that they cannot stock catfish. Its less than one hour from the Rock river. I know, the State dosen’t have any money again. Well I guess thats why I like fishing in Missouri, they take care of there fisheries.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/30 at 10:22 AM

1.) such poor decisions are being made by uninformed and undereducated dept leaders and 2.) no matter how much they raise our fees to enjoy OUR wildlife the bulk of the revenue generated by the increase will NOT go to the DNR but other state programs that pertain to wildlife man?t in no way shape or form

Are you a fisheries biologist with a master degree? I didn’t think so. So I think you should reconsider statements made about people in the DNR being undereducated and uninformed. Is it the DNR’s fault that the money from license fees doesn’t go to wildlife management? No, that is the governments fault. It is corrupt. Do you honestly think money from the general Illinois lottery goes towards education? Honestly I don’t think $15 license fees are all that much for fishing for an entire year. I felt the need to jump in here because I am really tired of people thinking that they are fisheries biologist and that they know what is best. All you people do is complain about how the DNR is full of bumbling idiots.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/30 at 02:46 PM

Cambridgefisherman, thanks for your understanding and support.  I am a fisheries biologist with a specializing college degree.  I also understand the other folks comments and frustrations.  You hit the nail on the head about the IDNR not having direct control of maintaining collected fees and where state legislature funds are funneled.  It’s unfortunate how the IDNR has been gutted of tenured staff with years and years of knowledge due to a select few elected official’s mentality towards the outdoors.  I’m an avid hunter and fisherman who enjoys the state’s resources just like the rest of you.  All I can say is the Department Staff and other cooperating resource agencies are trying their best to improve and maintain the state’s wildlife and fisheries with the limited budget available.  Most staff have gone on record and don’t agree with the way things have happened or some of the things we’re told we have to do regarding the Asian Carp barrier lawsuit.  I suppose it’s the same as a lot of other jobs when an employee doesn’t agree with their employer, but they do it to maintain a job and in hopes that things will get better.  Your voices are all important.  For those of you with frustrations, use your time and energy to tell the state’s elected officials your concerns.  That’s the only way things can possibly change.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/30 at 03:28 PM

Murdy, I’ll refrain from discussing your misinterpretation of my comments.  The general public is being fed spin words and unsubstantiated facts that the politicians and lawyers release to the media.  I wish they would release the ineffectiveness and degree of error associated with the DNA test that have been completed.  If most of the other state’s biologist didn’t agree in private meetings that the barrier will likely fail and cause even greater ecological damage by blocking flows and critical fish migration routes for other species, then I would agree with you.  The alewife and salmon are introduced species that have drastically changed Lake Michigan’s natural fishery.  The unnatural presence of these species and their impact on native populations isn’t mentioned by the same folks who want to sue Illinois over a different unnatural species that might enter the watershed.  Why - because salmon generate revenue, carp won’t unless someone finds a beneficial and monetary use that feeds the other state’s tax base.  You’re right, it’s not worth quibbling over this matter.  The public will be swayed by weak and false information fed to them by parties with their own personal interest and agendas.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/31 at 11:03 AM

Hey ranger, I am finishing up my Bachelors in Biology this winter and hopefully moving on to Grad school for fisheries. I am actually working with fisheries biologists in Gibson City so believe me I know what is going on.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/31 at 01:33 PM

Cambridge, Glad to hear you’re going into fisheries.  Keep working with federal or state biologist as a volunteer, summer hire or a co-op and you’ll have a good chance of landing a job while finishing your masters.  Good luck!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/31 at 06:09 PM

yea if they was goin to poison any and every kind of fish why dont they just throw bout 8 er 10 sticks of that there TNT dynamite out and do the same or they could pull up a few stocks of that standin corn and throw at em

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/02 at 09:15 AM

Murdy, to amuse your stupidity I’ll reply.  Send me an e-mail or whatever way you want to receive the information and I’ll be happy to send you scientific reports on the number of fish that congregate at the lock and dam structures for months at a time.  When high water conditions require the tainter gates to be opened to match open river flows, the fish pass on a regular basis to upstream waters.  I’ll also gladly send you a copy of my college degrees in fisheries biology, which is something that I doubt you posses.  I think it would be best if you saw an anger management and blog posters anonymous counselor.  You obviously have too much time on your hands.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/06 at 06:16 PM

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