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Increased levels of Asian carp DNA found closer to Lake Michigan

Jan 16, 2015

A federal report says genetic markers of Asian carp are still showing up in Chicago-area waterways, which environmentalists say highlights the continuing threat that invasive fish will reach the Great Lakes. 

A map of locations in the Chicago Area Waterway in which Asian Carp DNA has been found.
Credit US Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its findings from 240 water samples it collected during the week of October 20, 2014. Twenty-three of these samples tested positive for DNA from silver carp, one of several Asian carp species that currently infest many Midwestern rivers.

The National Park Service explains the possible devastating ecological impacts of Asian carp reaching the Great Lakes:

Asian carp cause serious damage to the native fish populations in the lakes and rivers that they infest because they out-compete other fish for food and space. Silver carp are known to jump out of the water at high speeds, which can injure boaters and damage boating equipment. Experts are also worried that if these fish get into the Great Lakes, they may negatively affect the area's $7 billion/year fishing industry. By out-competing native fish species for food and habitat, carp may reduce the populations of native fish that are so important to fishermen. 

Just one live Asian carp has been found in the Chicago waters, but their DNA has turned up repeatedly in samples. The Alliance for the Great Lakes has reported that recently detected DNA was found less than a city block from Lake Michigan.

-Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom