Environment & Science
3:54 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

It's lampricide season on the Great Lakes, Jay Leno attaches one to his neck

The U.S. government spends millions of dollars every year to keep sea lamprey in check.

This year, Congress has approved $21,408,342.00 to control the Great Lakes invader.

Dale Burkett is the director of the sea lamprey control program for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC). The agency oversees lamprey control both on the U.S. side and on the Canadian side.

Burkett says the money pays for control efforts in roughly 100 streams and rivers feeding the Great Lakes.

This week, fisheries biologists are working on a river that feeds the Grand Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan.

More from the Traverse City Record-Eagle:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scheduled pest control treatments from June 4-9 to kill sea lamprey larvae burrowed in the Mitchell Creek stream bottoms. The creek flows through Traverse City State Park before entering into the East Arm of the Grand Traverse Bay.

That's just one stream. Lamprey are found all over the Great Lakes (as this GLFC map shows).

Using a lampricide known as TFM has proven to be the most effective way to treat streams where the lamprey spawn. In bigger rivers, like the St. Mary's River (which connects Lake Superior with the lower lakes), wildlife officials use a different lampricide (granular Bayluscide).

For a video on how it's done (complete with ominous music and voiceover), check out this Silent Invaders video from NorthAmericanFishing (it's a little overdone, but there's some good info and visuals in here):

And for more sea lamprey entertainment, watch Jay Leno attach one to his neck (Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet wouldn't go for it).

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