DNA from 2 Michigan rivers show no signs of Asian carp

A bighead carp, front, a species of the Asian carp, swims in an exhibit that highlights plants and animals that eat or compete with Great Lakes native species, Jan. 5, 2006, at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) – State officials are reporting that after testing, there are no signs of Asian carp in two rivers in Southwestern Michigan.

None of the 260 samples collected from the St. Joseph and Kalamazoo rivers on May 1 found evidence of fish, DNR fisheries biologist Nick Popoff said. Results and maps of the two rivers are available here.

Concern about the possibility of invasive silver or bighead carp reaching the Great Lakes grew after the June 22 capture of an 8-pound, 27-inch-long silver carp in Chicago. The silver carp was caught just nine miles from Lake Michigan.

“Invasive carp thrive and reproduce in large, warm-water rivers with ample flow,” Popoff said in a DNR release. “Michigan’s southwestern Great Lakes tributaries provide suitable habitat and sufficient food, in the form of algae, to support these species.”

The Grand, St. Joseph and Kalamazoo rivers have two additional monitoring events scheduled, with lab results coming in July and August.

The eDNA surveillance program samples high-priority locations for the evidence of bighead and silver carp.

If the measures being taken against invasive carp fail, Michigan’s waters could sustain major ecological changes, which would cause losses of billions of dollars to the commercial and sport fishing industry according to the DNR release.

“Controlling and eradicating aquatic invasive species is an extremely costly, difficult and long-term undertaking, with no guarantee of success,” said DNR senior water policy advisor Tammy Newcomb in the release. “Preventing invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes is a far better prospect.”