Invasive carp threatens Great Lakes

These are the fish seen in YouTube videos leaping out of the water when disturbed by boats. Water skiers have been injured by them and they are rapidly taking over waterways in the midwest.

Fish and wildlife officials will poison a 6-mile stretch of water near Chicago on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to keep one of the most dangerous invasive species of fish, the Asian carp, out of the Great Lakes.

Invasive carp threatens Great Lakes
By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY






  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    My whole life I have been reading about new invasive species in the Great Lakes. Do they have any of the original fish?

  2. jdubya Avatar

    “”Asian carp were first brought to Arkansas in 1963 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which wanted a natural way to control aquatic weeds, reducing the need for chemicals. “”

    Even in 1963 they should have known better. I could maybe understand if these fish were releases into the wild from private owners who tired of them, but the USFW?? I think they should crank up the juice to sterilize the water and put up enuf barriers to keep people from falling in.

  3. Matt Avatar

    Why not impose some sort of bounty on the fish. Bounties were responsible for wiping out lots of predators back in the day, perhaps a small bounty would knock the population down drastically, the fish could be used for fertilizer or something. Say a dollar a fish ? , folks all over the midwest could collect a small fee for each fish, almost like returing a soda bottle for 5 cents.

  4. Nathan Hobbs Avatar
    Nathan Hobbs

    The fish are estimated to be 4,000 per square mile and up to 99 percent of all the biomass in certain areas. Good luck with a bounty system they probably outnumber us!. The Asian Carp was established in the Mississippi river system during the floods of the 1990s from Domestic ‘fish farms that were flooded over.

  5. Ken Cole Avatar


    Fecundity ranges from about 265,000-2,000,000 eggs per fish.

    There is no bounty program that will eliminate them. I am doubtful that the attempts to keep them out of the Great Lakes will be successful.

  6. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    They are clearing Utah Lake right now of carp. They have already dumped a few million dollars into trying to rid the lake of them. Million and millions of pounds of fish removed so far.

  7. Mike Avatar

    Ralph – the great lakes do retain some native fish, although of course in much smaller numbers they are:

    bass(largemouth and smallmouth)
    lake herring
    lake trout
    northern pike
    rock bass
    yellow perch
    coaster brook trout

    lake trout were destroyed everywhre except for Lake Superior. Same for coaster brook trout. The coasters were huge brook trout that went up into the rivers to spawn(in some really nice country too). Over harvest and over logging killed them off. There is s still a good run in the Huron Mountains on Superior(virgin forest area that is private property) and on Isle Royale.

    It’s sad that many of the streambeds were completely destroyed for coaster spawning by massive logging operatons.

  8. jdubya Avatar

    Mike, you are right, the coasters are/were wonderful fish. But they are slowly coming back:

    If the tributaries can get cleaned up they have the chance to re-establish their old runs. But these invasive species that keep finding the Great Lakes will stunt any decent recovery efforts.

  9. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Ken is right. It will be virtually impossible to eradicate these prolific exotic species from the Great Lakes or any other watershed in North America. The genie is out of the bottle and we will have to learn to adapt to the changes they bring to our environment, the native species and ecosystems we have inherited.

  10. Mike Avatar

    Here is a link to a YouTube video about the Utah Lake carp project:

  11. Pronghorn Avatar

    This is dire, distressing news for one who grew up next to Lake Michigan. I remember back in the late ’60s, the National Guard was called out to the beaches of my hometown to clean-up the massive alewife die-off. The stench was unbelievable! Now, coho salmon (introduced, I think, to deal with the alewife, who should have been dealt with by lake trout, but THEY were gone, I think, because of the sea lamprey…) is a tourist industry. You’d think it couldn’t possibly get any more messed up, then along comes Asian carp.

  12. Jim Avatar

    Lake Trout are back in Lake Michigan. I caught an 18lber last year. If these fish make it in the lake will be ruined. I fear its too little too late though.

    Michigan is threatening to sue to get action taken to stop this, but I think all the great lakes states should have been cooperating years ago to prevent this instead of acting at the 11th hour to save the lakes, but such is government. A day late as usual.

  13. Jim Avatar

    Also I forgot to mention. There are good numbers of trophy small mouth in Lake Michigan. The clearer water from the invasive mussels really helped. Also, northern pike at 40 plus inches have also started to be caught in Chicago harbors. The lake is holding its own, but if the carp make it in, its a lost cause. They have destroyed once beautiful recreation rivers on the way upstream.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks Pronghorn and Jim.

    During 4 years I lived in Wisconsin I fished for perch and pike in the Wisconsin lakes, but never did more than drive to a viewpoint and look at Lake Michigan.

    I’d like to go back and drive around Lake Superior, including the part in Canada.

  15. Patrick Avatar

    I wonder if it might be possible to net these rough fish and use them as a source for natural fertilizer….think urban city gardens and the like.

  16. Jim Avatar

    Patrick it is a good idea, but where they are at there are thousands and thousands. I have read some articles where people were throwing large treble hooks in the water and and reeling them in and snagging fish on almost every cast. I think rotenone is the best route. The IL DNR said they were trying to remove native fish before poisonning the river, so we will see.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole