invasive species

Kate Gardiner / Creative Commons

Wildlife managers could have a harder time controlling spawning Asian carp, if they escape into the Lake Michigan from Chicago-area shipping canals. That's according to a report released by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Elizabeth Murphy is a hydrologist with the USGS. She co-authored the study.

Murphy says new data shows fertilized Asian carp eggs can incubate in waterways that are only 16 miles long. That’s a lot less than the 62 miles scientists thought the drifting eggs needed.

Lawmakers in Lansing are quickly wrapping up the state budget for the next fiscal year. What will the $50 billion spending plan mean for you?

And, we took a look at the efforts to help prison inmates rebuild their lives through post-secondary education.

Also, we got an update on just how close the Asian Carp is to the Great Lakes.

First on the show, the Council of Great Lakes Governors met this past weekend on Mackinac Island.

The group talked of economic cooperation, and harmonizing plans for protecting the largest body of freshwater on the Earth’s surface. The discussions were mostly nice, but there were some disagreements, especially when it came to dealing with invasive species.

Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta joined us today to explain.

Asian Carp
Kate.Gardner / Flickr

The Council of Great Lakes Governors met this past weekend on Mackinac Island.

The group talked of economic cooperation, and harmonizing plans for protecting the largest body of freshwater on the Earth’s surface. The discussions were mostly nice, but there were some disagreements, especially when it came to dealing with invasive species like Asian carp.

Rick Pluta filed a story on their meeting, and we also got an update on where things stand with Asian carp. 

We spoke with Duane Chapman, a research fish biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Chapman said that there have been three Bighead carp that have been caught in the Great Lakes, but not since 2000. 

Listen to the whole story to find out where the most recent DNA has been found in the Lakes, and how it got there.

To hear the story, click the audio above.

The brown marmorated stink bug is identified by its antennae and legs.
Rutgers University

The bug looks like this:

Michigan chefs experiment with Asian carp

Mar 26, 2013
Sarah Payette

One of the strategies to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes is to eat the fish now living in the Mississippi River. But finding a market for millions of pounds of carp is not easy. Peter Payette wondered if people could get excited about Asian carp as a seafood delicacy. So he put some in the hands of chefs in Traverse City:

Asian Carp doesn’t taste like much. In fact, you might describe its taste as neutral.

University of Michigan

The Great Lakes are under a lot of stress. 

34 different kinds of stress, to be exact.

That’s according to a research team that has produced a comprehensive map showing many of the things that stress the Great Lakes.  Think: pollution, invasive species, development and climate change... just to name a few. 

Asian carp at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.
Kate Gardiner / Creative Commons

They've become YouTube stars: big fat Asian carp leaping into boats and sometimes breaking bones as they come flailing into the boat of some poor person who just wanted to enjoy some time on the water.

A Carp Hunter in action near Peoria, IL.
YouTube

Shark Week, schmark week.

It's Asian Carp Week here at Michigan Radio!

All week long, The Environment Report has been bringing us stories about Asian Carp & the Great Lakes.

It's estimated that as many as 3,000 wild pigs are on the loose in Michigan. Nationwide, they cause more than $1.8 billion in damage to farms each year. So recently, the state's Department of Natural Resources put Russian boar on the state's invasive species list.

Michigan Technological University

Forests throughout Michigan are undergoing big changes as millions of beech and ash trees are killed off by pests and disease.

Beech Bark Disease and the Emerald Ash Borer first arrived in Michigan around twelve years ago.

Both problems continue to spread, but many forests still have healthy trees in them.

Foresters from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Tech are taking a closer look at more than 30,000 acres of state forest land.

Andrew Storer, professor of forest and insect ecology at Michigan Tech, said the plan is to harvest healthy stands of ash and beech trees before they’re affected.

"If it's consistent with the management objective of the stand, then removing resources that you know are not going to persist until the next cutting cycle makes a lot of sense just in terms of getting the value out of those trees while they’re still in the forest," said Storer.

Storer said harvesting these trees now can also help forest ecology.

"It helps the forest by getting a head start, if you like, on what the future forest is going to be, and so by removing trees now and getting the value from that, we’ll start to see what the regenerating forest is going to be, and through management be able to direct that regeneration toward species that are going to be successful in the forest in the future," said Storer.

In a press release, the Michigan DNR said the goal is not to remove all beech or ash trees in these forests, but to thin them to a healthier level.

"We are using criteria including proximity to the nearest infested site, infestation, size, density and quality of trees, and accessibility, in order to prioritize which areas need attention," said Bill O'Neill, chief of the DNR's Forest Resources Division, who also serves as state forester. "Considering other factors important to maintaining healthy forests, harvests are being scheduled to remove the beech and ash and regenerate the stand to a desired, productive species mix. The goal is not to remove all beech or ash, but to reduce them to a level that the mortality will not significantly impact the quality of the remaining trees or the productivity of the forest."

Researchers started surveying state forest land for this project last June and plan to continue surveying through next summer.

US Geological Survey -- Florida Integrated Science Center, Gainesville

State wildlife officials are concerned that a potentially damaging fish has turned up in the St. Joseph River in Berrien County.

A ball of white bread and 6-pound fishing line did this grass carp in.
user Catman529 / wikimedia

It's not one of the "Big Three" Asian Carp species that biologists worry could devastate an already struggling Great Lakes fishery (Bighead, Black, or Silver). But the Grass Carp is a species of Asian Carp officials are concerned about. The fish can damage native plant and fish habitat in lakes.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources plans to remove these illegal carp from a lake about 20 miles southeast of Jackson, Michigan.

Marrs Lake in Lenawee County is where officials previously said they found a grass carp. MDNR also plan to sample connected lakes (Washington, Wolf and Allen) for grass carp DNA to see whether the fish spread.

The grass carp was found during a June survey after a fisherman submitted a photo of one. During the survey, three other grass carp were spotted.

Meg Cramer

There’s so much to know about what’s happening in the world around us, and that information gives us insights into patterns and changes that could have a big impact on our lives.

But finding these trends requires a lot of data – and somebody has to go out and get it.

Chris Kort is one of those people. He's an ecological surveyor counting trees in Detroit. For every tree he counts, Kort marks where the tree is, then he adds details like its size, species, and health.

Kort does this all day long, walking up and down Detroit streets, counting trees on city property.

“Since March, I have surveyed 13,468 trees. And counting,” he says.

The data from this survey will go to the city, the state, and scientists at the U.S. Forest Service. It will tell a story about what’s happening to trees in the city.

A database like this has to be built manually by people like Chris Kort, tree by tree.

Kort is like the human version of the Google street view car, roving up and down blocks and adding to his map. He notices details that most people miss. There are some things you can only find on foot. 

“I’ve actually been collecting pennies on the sides of the roads for, like four months," says Kort, "I cashed in 2,200 pennies yesterday. People just don’t pick them up anymore apparently.”

Illinois DNR

An intensive four day search for the invasive Asian Carp gets underway near Chicago tomorrow. The search area is a short swim from Lake Michigan.

user MirkoB / Wikimedia Commons

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Authorities plan another intensive search for Asian carp next week after repeatedly detecting DNA from the invasive fish in Chicago's Lake Calumet.

Officials said Friday that genetic material from silver carp was found in samples taken in May and June. Policy requires stepped-up efforts to find the fish whenever their DNA turns up during three consecutive rounds of sampling in the same area.

Illinois DNR

Illinois officials are downplaying the recent discovery of Asian Carp DNA in a waterway a short distance from Lake Michigan.

Asian Carp are an invasive species that experts fear could devastate fish native to the Great Lakes.

Grass carp
USGS

A man was charged with 12 felony counts for illegally selling live Asian carp in Michigan. And he wasn't too inconspicuous - "grass carp" was apparently written on the side of his truck.

From the Michigan DNR:

...the Attorney General's Criminal Division has charged an Arkansas man with 12 felony counts of possessing and selling live Asian carp in violation of state law protecting against the spread of invasive species. The charges follow a joint investigation by the DNR's Special Investigation Unit and Commercial Fish Enforcement Unit.

Grass carp are a type of Asian carp. Grass carp have been illegal to sell in Michigan for decades because the invasive species is a voracious plant eater.

Officials say grass carp "could potentially remove all vegetation from a body of water at the expense of native species."

The fish were imported in the 1960's and have been used to control weeds in ponds.

State officials say David Shane Costner, 42, of Harrisburg, Ark., had 110 grass carp housed in a semi-truck. Costner was working for Farley's Arkansas Pondstockers.

More from the MDNR:

Costner allegedly traveled around the state, conducting sales of the illegal carp from store parking lots. The trucks also contained live fish species permitted under state law, including channel catfish, largemouth bass and fathead minnows. On May 16, 2012, Costner allegedly sold two of the live grass carp to undercover DNR investigators in Midland, Mich.

David Eggert of MLive reports Costner's truck had the words "grass carp" written on the side.

The wildlife agency received a tip that Costner had been selling illegal carp at several locations in southern Michigan and the west side of the state, Golder said... Costner could not be reached for comment. A secretary who answered the phone at Farley's said he no longer works there.

Grass carp are just one of four species of Asian Carp officials are worried about. And Grass carp appear to be the least of their worries when it comes to threats to the Great Lakes.

The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee lists three Asian Carp that are of concern - Grass carp are not on the list:

There are three species of Asian carp that are considered invasive and a threat to the Great Lakes: the bighead, silver and black carp. Silver and bighead carp are filter-feeding fish and consume plant and animal plankton. Asian carp can grow to large sizes: some as large as 110 pounds, though the average size is around 30-40 pounds. Bighead and silver carp are voracious eaters, capable of eating 5-20 percent of their body weight each day. They consume plankton—algae and other microscopic organisms—stripping the food web of the key source of food for small and big fish. Black carp differ in that they consume primarily mollusks, and threaten native mussel and sturgeon populations. They can grow to seven feet in length and over 100 pounds.

user drow_male / wikimedia commons

The Nature Conservancy has released an analysis saying that invasive species such as zebra mussels and sea lamprey cost businesses and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars each year, besides damaging the environment in the Great Lakes region.

Power companies spend $130 million annually removing mussels from electric plants.

The report out yesterday said tourism and other industries lose $50 million a year in reduced demand because of invasive species.

The study conducted by Anderson Economic Group of East Lansing says the situation will get worse if Asian carp reach the Great Lakes.

Asian carp at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.
Kate Gardiner / Creative Commons

The federal government says it will speed up a decision on how to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species in the Mississippi River basin. The Obama administration announced the new timetable Tuesday.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Purple Loosestrife is a widespread invasive plant. It’s taken over wetlands in every state in the US except Florida. But now, scientists consider Purple Loostrife an invasive species success story.

Purple Loosestrife are the tall bright purple flowering plants you see mixed in with cattails lining the edge of many lakes and wetlands.

A long road before success

BBC

According to the BBC, a sea-lamprey pie made for the monarchs in England by chefs in the city of Gloucester was a Christmas tradition that dated back to the Middle Ages.

The custom stalled in the 19th century, but has been revived of late for special occasions.

This year, Gloucester chefs plan to cook up a lamprey pie for Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee in June - marking 60 years of her reign.

And this time around, the lampreys in the pie will come from the Great Lakes.

The Detroit Free Press reports the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's Marc Gaden will gladly make an official delivery of the lampreys while vacationing in England this May.

Here, the lampreys are an invasive species that continue to threaten the sport fishing industry. But that's not the case in England:

Although lamprey used to be abundant in the Severn River near Gloucester, the creatures are now endangered and protected.

"It would be like us making a pie out of piping plover," an endangered shorebird in Michigan, Gaden said.

Gaden already has shipped 2 pounds of slimy Lake Huron lamprey, frozen, to Gloucester, but he is vacationing in England and will put on a tie and officially present the fish to the mayor May 4.

The Free Press reports chefs will consult an old recipe for the occasion:

One traditional 15th-Century recipe calls for the creature to be cooked in a sauce of wine, vinegar, cinnamon and its own blood, then baked in a tall crust...

[Marc]Gaden said he doesn't plan to eat any.

The BBC and the Free Press both report that no one can predict whether the Queen will partake in a piece of lamprey pie, or simply quietly admire it.

The BBC has a video about the Gloucester tradition of lamprey pie baking.

For more on how the sea lamprey snuck into the Lakes, check out "The Earliest Invader," a piece David Sommerstein did for the Environment Report's Ten Threats to the Great Lakes series.

Asian carp leaping out of a river.
glfc.org

Last month, we spoke with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) about plans about a permanent solution for keeping Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes.

“The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a plan to give us specific recommendations on how to separate the waters… The problem is they say they won’t have this done until 2015. And, so, what we’re trying to do is push them to get this done much quicker,” Stabenow explains.

Now, we hear about legislation introduced in Congress by Senator Stabenow and U.S. Rep. Dave Camp to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed up their analysis.

More from the Associated Press:

Legislation introduced in Congress would force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed up a study of how to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes.

The corps has identified 18 locations where fish and other organisms could migrate between the lakes and other watersheds, including an artificial linkage between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin in the Chicago area.

Corps officials say they'll release their recommendations by late 2015.

Michigan's U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. Dave Camp say that isn't soon enough. They're sponsoring bills to require the corps to submit a progress report within 90 days of the legislation's enactment and a full plan within 18 months.

Scientists say Asian carp could starve out native Great Lakes fish.

Photo courtesy of the Great Lakes NOBOB Team

Ships entering the Great Lakes can carry water from foreign ports. That water is held in their ballast tanks. It helps stabilize the ship.

Now, anytime you hear the term ballast water... do your eyes glaze over? Maybe you start thinking about what you’re going to make for dinner? Okay, so it’s not the sexiest topic. But it matters because sneaky little invasive species can hide in the ballast water... and catch a ride across the ocean.

“Invasive species, scientists think, are the worst problem facing the Great Lakes. They threaten the Great Lakes health, they threaten to crash the ecosystem, they threaten our economy.”

That’s Andy Buchsbaum. He directs the Great Lakes office of the National Wildlife Federation. He says when ships dump their ballast water in the Great Lakes, the invaders can get out.

“And if they find each other and fall in love, you have families of those critters and you actually have some real population problems like zebra mussels going wild in the Great Lakes.”

Zebra mussels have caused all kinds of havoc with Great Lakes ecosystems. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates 30 percent of the invasive species in the Great Lakes have come in through ballast water.

Captive Russian boars
Peter Payette

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has filed its first legal action under an order that outlaws some breeds of exotic swine.

The Michigan DNR has filed a legal action in Cheboygan County against the Renegade Ranch Hunting Preserve for refusing entry to state inspectors and harboring prohibited breeds.

This is the first legal action taken by the Michigan DNR since the state started enforcing the order on April 1.

*Correction - An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Michigan DNR is banning "some species of exotic swine." The MDNR is banning certain breeds not species.  It has been corrected above.

opencage.info

Update 5:20 p.m.

A Michigan Court of Appeal ruling today upholds a ban on exotic swine breeds. It was adopted in an effort to halt the spread of feral swine that are tearing up farms and woodlands.

Opponents of the state’s new ban on about 130 swine breeds said they are not giving up their fight as April 1 approaches.

That’s when the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment will start to enforce the ban.

Scott Everett represents breeders and hunting ranches that are regulated by the order. He predicted there will be unintended consequences once it takes effect.

“The DNR is using the invasive species act to define certain animals that are invasive species and you can’t just say it’s only those animals that are on the hunting preserve operations – it’s all the swine that the DNR  thinks are invasive species," said Everett.

He said it will also affect hundreds of boutique farms in Michigan that raise animals for specialty meats for high-end restaurants.

There are still other legal actions pending challenging how the order will be enforced, and whether the state is illegally seizing property.

10:10 a.m.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the order that outlaws raising and possessing some breeds of exotic swine.

Hunting ranch operators and breeders challenged the order by the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The state will start enforcing the ban in less than a month.

The photo above shows a knotweed stand getting out of control in the Upper Peninsula/Photo by Vern Stephens.

Vern Stephens and Sue Tangora work for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. They happen to be married to each other. And they have a common enemy.

“This is on my radar of being a 10 on a scale of one out of 10.”

That thing they hate? It’s a plant. An invasive plant called Japanese knotweed. It’s sometimes also called Mexican bamboo. I met up with Vern and Sue at a busy intersection in East Lansing... on a corner lot where Japanese knotweed is going hog wild.

“It looks like bamboo. It gets up to 10-12 feet tall. It’s like being in a jungle, the canopy is above your head, generally in a lot of the sites, you can’t touch the canopy it’s that high above you.”

Maybe you’re thinking... so what? It’s a plant. In fact, it’s been a popular landscape plant in Michigan for years. People like it because it grows fast, so you can use it as a privacy screen to keep out nosy neighbors.

But this plant is crafty. It’s native to Japan, where it’s one of the first plants that comes up after a volcanic eruption. So it can actually push through volcanic rock. The problem with that is... it can also break through the foundation of your home.

“We know in England, Japanese knotweed has been known to be a problem there and it’s to the point where people have trouble getting insurance for homes, some of their insurance rates are really inflated. You see pictures of it growing up a wall inside someone’s home.”

(One couple in the UK had to demolish their home after a knotweed invasion - you can read that article here)

And actually – the knotweed on this corner lot is already breaking through the sidewalk.

USGS

This post has been updated with more details and comments from AG's office. 

Shipping locks in Chicago-area waterways will not be closed while a lawsuit over how to keep Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes is pending. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the injunction Monday.

Jim Bahn / Flickr

The Associated Press Reports: New York State will not be imposing stricter regulations on ships potentially carrying invasive species into the Great Lakes.

In the past, ships carrying ballast water for stability have brought invasive species including quagga mussels, spiny water fleas and round gobys to the Great Lakes from Europe.

New York State controls access to the St. Lawrence Waterway, which is the gateway to the Great Lakes.

U.S. Coast Guard

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - The Obama administration plans to spend $51.5 million this year in its continuing battle to protect the Great Lakes from destructive Asian carp.

Federal officials announced their carp strategy for 2012 on Thursday. It includes first-time water sampling to determine whether bighead and silver carp have reached vulnerable sections of Lakes Michigan, Erie and Huron.

Other planned measures include stepped-up netting and trapping of Asian carp in the Illinois River. Also high-tech monitoring to determine if an electric barrier near Chicago is adequately blocking the carp's path to Lake Michigan.

Authorities also plan field tests of an acoustic underwater gun that could scare carp away and pheromones to lure them to places where they could be captured.

David Sommerstein / The Environment Report

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Environmental groups say they may renew a legal battle if the federal government doesn't toughen proposed regulations of ship ballast water that has brought invasive species such as zebra mussels to the Great Lakes.

Groups have gone to court twice to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to crack down on ballast water disposal. The agency now requires ships to exchange the water at sea. In November, EPA proposed requiring vessels to install equipment that would kill at least some organisms remaining in the tanks.

The rule is based on an international standard that shippers say is the best they can do with existing technology.

But environmental groups said Tuesday the rules aren't strong enough to prevent more species invasions and they may sue again unless EPA toughens them.

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