November 21, 2009 in Nation/World

Huge carp close in on Lake Michigan

John Flesher Associated Press
File Associated Press photo

The silver carp, a variety of the Asian carp, eats enough to threaten other species with starvation.
(Full-size photo)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Asian carp may have breached an electronic barrier designed to prevent the giant invaders from upsetting the ecosystem in the Great Lakes and jeopardizing a $7 billion sport fishery, officials said Friday.

Scientists recently collected 32 DNA samples of Asian carp between the barrier and Lake Michigan in waterways south of Chicago, although the fish have yet to be spotted in the area, said Maj. Gen. John Peabody of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

If the feared bighead and silver carp have gotten through the $9 million barrier, the only remaining obstacle between the carp and Lake Michigan is a navigational lock on the Calumet River. Some DNA was found as close as one mile south of the lock and eight miles south of the lake.

Still, federal officials insisted a Great Lakes invasion was not inevitable.

Officials plan to treat a six-mile section of the canal with a fish toxin called rotenone to prevent the carp from advancing.

Asian carp escaped from Southern fish farms into the Mississippi River during 1990s flooding and have been migrating northward since.

The monstrous creatures can exceed 4 feet long and 100 pounds. They consume up to 40 percent of their body weight daily in plankton, starving out smaller and less aggressive competitors.

© Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email