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Study: Asian carp threat to Great Lakes

July 13, 2012 at 4:11 PM

CHICAGO, July 13 (UPI) -- Invasive Asian carp could thrive in all five Great Lakes if even a small number of the species made it to the basin, U.S. and Canadian scientists say.

A report contradicts many carp experts who've expressed doubts the feared fish, which have been found in the Illinois River, would be able to flourish in the Lakes because of potential food shortages and relatively cold water temperatures.

A study led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, with the participation of U.S. Geological Survey scientists, found that there would be enough food to feed the fish and that water temperatures would not be too cold to stymie survival, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"The questions everyone has been asking are: 'Can a breeding population survive in the Great Lakes and would it be a significant problem if they did?'" USGS Director Marcia McNutt said in a statement. "Now we know the answers and unfortunately they are 'yes and yes.'"

The Binational Ecological Risk Assessment found the Great Lakes have similar characteristics to Asian carp's native range.

It would require a population of just 10 females and 10 males to have a greater than 50 percent chance of successfully spawning, and following entry, the fish could spread throughout the Great Lakes within 20 years, the report said.

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