WUOMFM

8-pound Asian carp found past electric barrier grew up in central Illinois

Aug 18, 2017

A necropsy (basically an autopsy for a fish) of the eight-pound Asian carp found just nine miles from the Great Lakes is finished. It shows that the fish was born and raised in central Illinois; proof for some that the barrier isn’t strong enough.

“The live silver carp that was found just nine miles from Lake Michigan this past June likely made its way through the electrical deterrents, confirming that our current defenses are not strong enough to prevent Asian carp from swimming into Lake Michigan,” Marc Smith, Great Lakes conservation director for the National Wildlife Federation said in a written statement.

It’s possible the fish evaded three electric barriers 37 miles from the lake.

But U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley says they can’t tell for certain. They can only determine where the fish came from.

“Somehow it got from the Illinois waterway system in central Illinois up through there possibly, possibly through the army corps of engineers electrical barrier. We do not know that,” Wooley said.

Wooley says the fish didn’t have a tracking tag -- and video at the barrier didn’t pick him up.

“We just don’t know and as biologists and scientists we want certainty. It’s possible somebody grabbed it and picked it up, moved it up there. We’re scratching our heads,” he said.

Wooley says video from the barrier shows that fish, especially ones that big, are easily repelled.

Wooley says the necropsy revealed the silver carp was a mature male, about four years old. They can tell that the fish likely spent between two weeks and roughly two months living past the barrier.

It was caught June 22 in Chicago's Little Calumet River, about nine miles from Lake Michigan.

Next month they’ll do some major fishing near the barrier to see if they can find any other Asian carp that may have snuck by the barrier.

“We’re just, we’re heartbroken the fish was found there. I can assure you we do not, under any circumstances; do not want to see any Asian carp to get into the Great Lakes and we’re doing everything possible to avoid that,” Wooley said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently released a list of options for strengthening defenses at a lock and dam in Illinois.