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Search finds no additional Asian carp

Jun 30, 2017

A search of Chicago-area waterways has turned up no additional Asian carp. Recent discovery of a live silver carp nine miles beyond an electric barrier raised concerns that more of the fish may have slipped through. The barrier was set up to keep invasive Asian carp from migrating into the Great Lakes.

Charlie Wooley, Deputy Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says that the discovery of the out-of-place carp is "concerning, but not catastrophic." 

US Fish and Wildlife has teamed up with the  Army Corps of Engineers, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and commercial fishing crews to extensively sample the fish population in the area the escaped carp was found. Nine boats are participating in the search, using gillnets and electrofishing equipment to catch and survey as many fish as possible. 

Meanwhile, the carp that was originally found has been submitted for DNA and other molecular testing for clues as to its origin. Although the current assumption is that it migrated from established populations below the barriers, Wooley says it's possible the fish arrived at its location through another route.

For example, he says carp are sometimes accidentally included when wildlife agencies are stocking waterways with catfish. Ponds on golf courses also sometimes have Asian carp that can be accidentally transported to nearby rivers.

"It's really befuddling and perplexing right now as to how that fish got there. We're just not sure the means that it utilized to find and get to that location in the Illinois waterway system," says Wooley.

The search will continue through July 7.

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