Illinois to poison canal in hopes of killing invasive carp

December 2, 2009 By Tina Lam

The largest fish kill in Illinois history -- expected to net 100 tons of fish including, hopefully, some Asian carp -- is to start Wednesday south of Chicago in an attempt to make sure none of the feared carp make it past an electric barrier while it is shut down for maintenance.

The fish kill is necessary because since July has shown evidence of two species of invasive near the barrier. And in the latest round of testing last month, carp DNA was found beyond the barrier, just one lock and dam away from Lake Michigan.

"If we don't let huge numbers get past, we could prolong a major invasion of carp for years," said Becky Cudmore, an Asian carp expert with Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans. "The barrier is still the best thing we have to keep them out."

The huge operation will spread rotenone into a 5.5-mile stretch of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Lockport, Ill.

The poison will kill all the fish, and scientists want to see if there are indeed Asian carp among them, as has shown. Once the fish are dead, power will be shut off at an electric barrier that has been turned on only since April. An older barrier that operates at a lower voltage will stay on as a backup.

Cudmore, one of 18 Canadians taking part in the operation, said that even though the bighead and silver species of Asian carp appear to have breached the electric barrier, all is not lost.

"We definitely feel the Great Lakes are at risk, but that risk is not immediate," she said. If only a few make it into Lake Michigan, it could take years for them to become a problem.

Hundreds of people from federal and several states' agencies are to help with the fish kill and cleanup, which could last into the weekend.

Maintenance on the barrier is expected to last at least four days; barges were ordered off the canal until Dec. 18.

(c) 2009, Detroit Free Press.
Visit the Freep, the World Wide Web site of the Detroit Free Press, at
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Carp barrier federal funding is rejected

Related Stories

Carp barrier federal funding is rejected

November 10, 2005

A $9 million electric barrier has been built to keep Asian carp from infesting Lake Michigan, but Congress is reportedly refusing to pay to turn it on.

Experts applaud massive fish kill

June 8, 2006

Illinois state officials say they are thrilled by the mysterious deaths of thousands of invasive Asian carp in the Illinois River last week.

Asian Carp still thriving in U.S. river

July 6, 2006

Scientists had some disappointing news this week for Illinois residents: Asian carp are still thriving in the Illinois River and are not dying from a virus.

Asian carp may have breached barrier protecting Lake Michigan

November 24, 2009

Two feared species of Asian carp have zoomed beyond the $9 million electric barriers built to keep them out of Lake Michigan. Now, the only thing left between the carp and the Great Lakes is a lock and dam in southern Chicago.

Recommended for you

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.