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Officials: still no Asian carp in Great Lakes

Environmentalists, ecologists and others say the carp could decimate food chains and habitats in the Great Lakes.

By
Brooks Hays
Asian carp DNA was found in the Kalamazoo River, not far from Lake Michigan. (CC/TMK)
Asian carp DNA was found in the Kalamazoo River, not far from Lake Michigan. (CC/TMK)

KALAMAZOO, Mich., Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Earlier this month, water from the Kalamazoo River in Michigan's Allegan County tested positive for genetic materials from Asian carp. The results had some local natural resource officials and conservationists worried that the invasive fish were on the brink of invading the Great Lakes.

But further testing by Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, as well as by scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, confirmed that there is no evidence of an Asian (or silver) carp population in Lake Michigan or the nearby waters of the Kalamazoo -- or any of the Great Lakes, for that matter.

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"We are pleased these samples were negative, but that doesn't mean our efforts to keep Michigan's waters are over," DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter said in a statement.

Asian carp were imported in the South several decades ago, where they served a utilitarian role on fish farms. But with no natural predator, the prodigious eaters and reproducers quickly escaped and began steadily invading the Mississippi River system.

Having arrived on the doorsteps of the Great Lakes, officials in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and others are working diligently to organize a strategy for keeping the invasive swimmers out.

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Environmentalists, ecologists and others say the carp could decimate food chains and habitats in the Great Lakes, diminishing biodiversity there and threatening a multibillion-dollar fishing industry.

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