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Search of Lake Calumet turns up empty for Asian carp

August 10, 2011 at 09:16 PM

Prairie State Outdoors

No Asian carp were found in or around Lake Calumet following intensive four-day search for signs of the invasive fish.

Environmental DNA testing – known as eDNA – indicated the possible presence of Asian carp, but the testing method cannot verify whether or not live carp are present.

It is not known if the DNA detected was from dead fish or if it came from bilge water or some other source.

Commercial fishing crews, electro-fishing boats, larger sweeping nets called seines and tandem trap nets were used in an attempt to locate Asian carp in the Lake.

Hydro acoustic surveys also were used to determine if live Asian carp were present.

Thirty-eight state and federal agency biologists and commercial fishermen on 11 vessels logged more than 1,000 hours searching for Asian carp.

The search concluded Aug. 4.

During the past decade, two species of Asian carp have become dominant in the Illinois River. Local, state and federal officials are trying to find solutions to keep the carp out of Lake Michigan where they could threaten the lake’s fishery.

Lake Calumet is located in southern Cook County and is connected to Lake Michigan by the Calumet River.

An electric barrier has been in place on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal since 2002. The canal connects Lake Michigan with the Des Plaines River and ultimately the Illinois River.

Even with the barrier in place, carp could still make it into Lake Michigan and other Chicago Area Waterways.

Officials say there is a possibility that a small number of Asian carp traveled to the Lake Calumet area prior to the 2002 installation of the electric barrier.

Anglers could release the fish into new areas when they dump buckets of unused minnows into the water. The young of Asian carp look similar to shad – a common baitfish.

Floods also can wash fish between watersheds when high water bridges the distance between waterways.

The 2011 Monitoring and Rapid Response Plan and the 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework can be found at: http://www.asiancarp.org.

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