NANFA-- News - Asian Bighead Carp discovered in Lk Michigan lagoon

Sajjad Lateef (
Thu, 12 Jun 2003 07:10:12 -0700 (PDT)

Two articles from the Chicago Tribune. The article quotes
Kurt Hettinger, Shedd Aquarium biologies and a NANFA member.
Copied here under "fair use" justification.

Anyone eat carp? Is it any good? If it is, then I'll
take up carp fishing (corn for bait, cane pole and
20lb line, right?) :)

Voracious carp discovered in city lagoon

Giant carp ready to eat way through Great Lakes
July 18, 2002

Tribune staff reports
Published June 10, 2003, 3:15 PM CDT

A Chicago fisherman's catch from a park district lagoon has alarmed
wildlife officials, who fear the spread of a voracious species of carp
into Lake Michigan.

Sam Pena pulled the 38-pound fish Monday from the pond at McKinley
Park, a Southwest Side park at Pershing Road and Damen Avenue,
authorities said. State wildlife officials inspected the fish and
confirmed it was an Asian bighead carp, a fish that can grow to 100
pounds as it consumes everything in its path.

It was unknown how the fish could have gotten into the park lagoon.
Though it is only a few blocks south of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship
Canal, the pond is not physically connected to the waterway.

City officials today reminded the public the City Council in April
banned the release of any live carp into city waterways, and made it
illegal to import, sell, transport or keep the fish. Violators could
face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000.

Anyone who catches a Asian bighead or sees someone releasing the fish
into area lakes and ponds was urged to call the city's 311 public
services number.

Scientists have warned the species could devastate the Great Lakes
ecosystem, devouring food supplies of other species, if it ever got
into Lake Michigan. The fish also is known to hurl itself over and into
boats, leading to reports of neck injuries, broken noses and bruises
among boaters.

The Asian bighead, a foreign import, escaped from an Arkansas fish farm
into the Mississippi River watershed in 1990s and has been spotted
within 55 miles of Lake Michigan. Officials have proposed creating a
fish barrier in the Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Cal-Sag Channel,
which connect the lake with the Mississippi.

WGN-Ch. 9 and Tribune wires contributed to this story.
Naturalists fear bighead carp is not alone
How 38-pounder got here a mystery

Giant carp ready to eat way through Great Lakes
July 18, 2002

By Mindy Hagen
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 11, 2003

Illinois wildlife officials will scour the McKinley Park lagoon to
determine if more Asian bighead carp lurk where a hulking specimen of
the invasive species was caught last week.

State and federal agencies have spent millions of dollars attempting to
keep the destructive fish out of the Great Lakes--but were caught off
guard when a local angler reeled in a 38-pound carp last Thursday in
the pond, at Pershing Road and Damen Avenue.

Samuel Pena said he instantly realized his catch was not your typical
bass. After taking the fish home, Pena brought it to Henry's Sports and
Bait Shop, 3130 S. Canal St., where he buys nightcrawlers as bait. The
shop's owners--who still have the fish in a freezer and are showing it
to an increasing parade of visitors--called the Illinois Department of
Natural Resources. Officials identified the catch as an Asian bighead
carp on Friday morning.

"When I caught it, I saw the scales and the eyes peering down and I
knew it looked deformed," said Pena, 42. "I hope there are no more in
this lagoon. If so, I'll jump in and swim and get them out myself."

But John Fogner, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service office in Barrington, said state agencies concerned about the
carp entering Lake Michigan and decimating the ecosystem will conduct
their own investigation.

Fogner said the DNR wants to know how Pena's fish entered the enclosed
lagoon--and if other Asian bighead carp also are present in the
picturesque pond.

"There's no question it was placed in there by someone," Fogner said.
"It could be a single isolated fish or there could be many in there.
State agencies need to make a decision whether that lagoon has to be
rehabilitated or not."

The Asian bighead carp are viewed as a menace because they prey on
organisms at the bottom of the food chain, wreaking havoc on the diets
of other predators. The species, whose taste is likened to tuna, was
imported by catfish farmers in Arkansas and moved into the Mississippi
River during flooding in the 1990s.

It has since migrated into the Illinois River. Environmentalists hope
an underwater electric field installed by the Army Corps of Engineers
in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Romeoville will prevent the
fish from coming closer to Lake Michigan. A $7 million permanent
electrical barrier, aimed at stunning the carp as they approach, is
slated to be complete in 2004, Fogner said.

"The electronic barrier is still a good idea because any effort that
can be made to curb these animals from coming in and harming the
ecosystem is great," said Kurt Hettigerof the Shedd Aquarium. "But it's
always on your mind that anyone could just drop one of these fish into
a body of water."

As for rooting out the carp in the lagoon, Hettiger said officials
might decide to use chemicals to kill all of the pond's fish species.

One person opposed to that idea is Lulu Washington, a retired South
Side resident who fishes at McKinley Park three to four times a week.

Washington, who calls herself "the fish lady," reeled in about a dozen
fish Tuesday afternoon but said she's been getting fewer bites
recently. She blamed the carp.

"It's slowed up a lot here, but we still want this lake to stay the way
it is," Washington said.

Copyright ) 2003, Chicago Tribune


Sajjad Lateef
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