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Asian carp have been making their way up the Mississippi River system for years after escaping from fish farms and wastewater treatment ponds in the southern U.S.They’re knocking on the door of the Great Lakes, and a number of people are concerned about what could happen if carp become established in the region.In this five-part series, we’ll take a look at what officials are trying to do to keep the fish out, what might happen if carp get in, and why some people want to turn carp into a business opportunity.

Electrofishing survey finds no silver, bighead carp in Lake Erie

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Silver and bighead carp don't appear to be living and breeding in Lake Erie - yet.

Environmental DNA from the fish was found in the lake near the Maumee River last year.  Environmental DNA comes from things like fish mucus, excrement, or scales.

But no Asian carp were captured in a recent electrofishing survey, which temporarily stuns fish with an electrical current.

Todd Kalisch is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

He says the survey is pretty good news. He says keeping the fish from gaining a foothold is the only way to protect the Great Lakes.

"It would be extremely difficult if not nearly impossible to eradicate them - once - if they ever were to establish in a water body that size."

Kalish says researchers are keeping an eye on Lake Erie, on the chance that invasive carp in the Sandusky River could migrate to the Maumee River during a flooding event in the plain that separates the two rivers.  From there, the fish could get to Lake Erie. 

But Kalish says the biggest risk is posed by the Chicago River, which leads to Lake Michigan.

He says Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, the U.S. Wildlife and Fish Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are collaborating, sharing results, and conducting joint projects to attack the problem. 

Researchers also recently took samples from Lake Erie near the Maumee River to see if there are new traces of carp environmental DNA.  Results are expected later this month.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.