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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.

New study suggests Asian carp "at the doorstep" of the Great Lakes

Bighead Carp Lake Calumet June 2010.jpg
Illinois Dept of Natural Resources
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A new study claims there is evidence that a small number of Asian Carp have reached the Great Lakes.   

Asian Carp is an invasive species that could potentially damage the Great Lakes environment and seven billion dollar fishing industry.

The paper released Thursday was written by scientists with the University of Notre Dame, The Nature Conservancy and Central Michigan University. It summarizes findings from a two-year search for the carp in and around the Great Lakes. 

The scientists took 58 water samples that contained Asian carp DNA in waterways near Chicago. Six samples taken from Lake Erie also yielded positive hits.

Chris Jerde is a researcher at Notre Dame and the study’s lead author. He says the data shows some carp have already made it to Lake Michigan and Lake Erie. 

“The threat is at the doorstep,” says Jerde. 

Jerde says there is time to stop the Asian Carp.

No live carp have been found in the Great Lakes in recent years, though three live bighead carp were caught in Lake Erie between 1995 and 2000.  

The Army Corps of Engineers insists electric barriers have been successful in blocking the Asian carp’s advance from Chicago area waterways into Lake Michigan.   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the DNA could have come from other sources.

The new Asian Carp study was published online in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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