Asian carp are perilously close to getting into Lake Michigan through Chicago-area rivers and canals.
We all know this is an urgent threat. The carp are an invasive species, and they're huge -- they can grow to be four feet long and weigh 100 pounds. If they get into the lake, they'll devastate the ecosystem and push out native species, irrevocably changing our fishing, swimming and sailing habits.
We need to act now to stop the Asian carp before it's too late.
To stop them, the locks in Chicago need to be immediately closed, and we need a long-term plan to prevent the carp from invading the lake.
Your help is needed against the invasion of Asian Carp in Lake Michigan.
Now is the time to write to our elected officials everwhere to stop the carp. A sample letter is a click away. Just click on the link below.
Asian carp are headed toward Wisconsin waters and pose a threat to boater safety, fishing, and ecosystem health.
© Chris Olds, USFWS
Invaders on the move
Asian carp species [PDF] introduced into the United States are headed toward Wisconsin waters. Asian carp environmental DNA has been found above the electric dispersal barriers in Lake Calumet, seven miles from Lake Michigan on the Indiana-Illinois border, and in 2013, in a single water sample collected from Sturgeon Bay, WI. Individual adult fish have been found on occasion in Wisconsin waters of the Mississippi River and in the Lower Wisconsin River.
The good news is no young fish have been found nor have any other signs of reproduction been found in any Wisconsin waters to date.
Also, dams on the Wisconsin River at Prairie du Sac and on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway at St. Croix Falls would block Asian carp on the Lower Wisconsin River or the Mississippi River from travelling farther inland in Wisconsin.
These Asian carp species are a serious concern because they can aggressively compete with native commercial and sport fish for food and can potentially disrupt entire ecosystems. Also, silver carp can injure boaters when the fish leap out of the water.
How you can help
- Follow all state rules to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and the fish disease VHS.
- Learn the features that distinguish young Asian carp from gizzard shad and other minnows, and adult fish from common carp, a related invasive carp species that has been established in Wisconsin for more than a century. Carry this Asian carp brochure [PDF] in your boat or tackle box.
- Take a picture of the fish if possible. The best angle is of the fish laid out flat. Try to include the whole fish, nose to tail, in the shot.
- Put the fish on ice and bring it to the local DNR office.
What Wisconsin is doing
Wisconsin has been working with states and federal agencies involved in managing the Mississippi River and Great Lakes to address aquatic invasive species, including keeping Asian carp from getting established in the Upper Mississippi River and in the Great Lakes. The two basins are artificially connected through the Chicago waterway system. Wisconsin has joined other states in legal action to sever that connection [exit DNR]. Other actions are listed below.
- Multiple state and federal agencies have worked together to develop action plans to try to prevent the spread of the carp and other aquatic invasive species in the Mississippi River system and to the Great Lakes.
- Management and Control Plan for Bighead, Black, Grass and Silver Carps in the U.S., [PDF exit DNR]
- Feasibility Study to Limit the Invasion of Asian Carp into the Upper Mississippi River Basin, [PDF exit DNR]
- Great Lakes Fishery Commission Preliminary Feasibility of Ecological Separation of the Mississippi River and The Great Lakes to Prevent the Transfer of Aquatic Invasive Species
- Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association-An Action Plan to Minimize Ecological Impacts of Aquatic Invasive Species in The Mississippi River Basin [PDF exit DNR]
- Wisconsin has banned the sale, transport, possession and introduction of bighead, black, grass and silver carp.
- Wisconsin has banned the harvest of baitfish from the Mississippi River and its tributaries to avoid spreading fish disease and having young Asian carp, which resemble popular bait species, from being taken to another water for use as bait.
- Wisconsin is supporting research to find ways of eradicating aquatic invasive species or at least limit their ability to spread to other waters.
- Wisconsin is partnering with the University of Notre Dame and others to collect water samples to test for Asian carp DNA in the state's Lake Michigan tributaries and harbors.
- Wisconsin has an extensive outreach and education program and a network of paid and volunteer watercraft inspectors to help raise awareness of invasive species and help ensure boaters and anglers take steps to prevent spreading aquatic invasive species.
- Wisconsin is working to protect and restore the Upper Mississippi River as a diverse ecosystem with quality habitat. Research shows that diverse, healthy ecosystems fare better when coping with invasive species.