Illinois to poison canal in hopes of killing invasive carp

Dec 02, 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 www.freep.com
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Law of the Sea authorizes animal tagging research without nations' consent

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Carp barrier federal funding is rejected

Nov 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.

Asian Carp still thriving in U.S. river

Jul 06, 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.

Experts applaud massive fish kill

Jun 08, 2006

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

Recommended for you

How can we help endangered vultures?

Oct 24, 2014

Zoologists from the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin are proposing an ingenious idea to help conserve populations of African white-backed vultures. The iconic birds, which play a critical ...

Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

Oct 24, 2014

Amargosa voles, small rodents that inhabit rare marshes of the Mojave Desert, have faced dire circumstances in recent years. Loss of habitat, extreme drought and climate change brought this subspecies of ...

User comments : 0