New fronts open in carp battle

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Carp WatchFor  weeks now, the media and politicians have been holding an intense spotlight on the Chicago locks as both the cause of and the cure for invasive species. Close the locks = Asian carp go away. Keep the locks open = Great Lakes are invaded.

But this week, we are reminded that the invasive species battle has several fronts. And we’re not just talking about Echo’s carp bombs.

Eric Sharp, outdoor writer for the Detroit Free Press is urging the powers that be not to forget the problems of ship ballast in their haste to blame the Chicago Locks for the invasive species.

“A victory five years from now for (Michigan Attorney General Michael) Cox and the other state AGs who have joined him will be a Pyrrhic one if enough Asian carp that have established a breeding population have slipped through in the meantime,” he wrote. “Closing the Chicago Canal while ignoring the St. Lawrence Seaway would be like patching a leak in a house’s roof while ignoring the fact that the back door is missing.”

Associated Press’ John Flesher reports that the U.S. Geologic Survey is already considering several other strategies other than — or in addition to – closing the locks to stop the carp from entering the Great Lakes.

“They include stopping carp from spawning in rivers that flow into the lakes and developing poisons that would kill Asian carp but not other fish,” Flesher wrote.

Phil Power, columnist for the Holland Sentinel, shared this week a conversation with Andy Buchsbaum, head of the National Wildlife Federation’s Midwest office in Ann Arbor. Buschbaum contends shutting the locks will not be as effective as portrayed. Even if the locks are closed, we might still need to resort to poisoning, electrofishing and eventually a “complete ecologic and hydrological separation of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan,”

Finally, the EPA itself is admitting that it has not worked hard enough to keep out invasive species — and that a wider variety of solutions need to be explored.

In a report for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the EPA confessed to having “no baseline standards for the numbers of acres managed for populations of invasive species controlled to a target level,” rapid response plans to fend off future invasions or even how many “recreation and resource users” should be educated on ways they can help keep invaders out.

All this tells us that these slippery devils aren’t going away anytime soon and its going to take a whole lot of people working different strategies to keep the carp away from Lake Michigan. But enough of the talk. Now all we need to see is some real action. Anyone?

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