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Ohio still keeping Asian carp out of Lake Erie

The battle to keep invasive Asian carp out of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes continues, and so far the results are good.

The latest success has been reported after an extensive effort to search three Ohio rivers found none of the invasive species of bighead or silver carp, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.

When water samples taken from the Muskingum River showed traces of Asian carp environmental DNA (eDNA), the Division of Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deployed electrofishing crews to search for live Asian carp. They worked 125 sites in June along the length of the Muskingum River, as well as portions of the Tuscarawas and Walhonding rivers. No bighead or silver carp were found.

Similar eDNA was found in the western basin of Lake Erie last year, but no bighead or silver carp were found.

Testing the three rivers is significant, since there is a tie-in to Lake Erie at Killbuck Creek and a connection between the Tuscarawas River and the Little Cuyahoga River at the Ohio-Erie Canal. Where the rivers link up with those spots have been identified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as potential aquatic pathways between the Mississippi-Ohio River and Lake Erie. There are large numbers of Asian carp in the Ohio River.

While Ohio has obviously made a strong effort to keep the carp out of Lake Erie, the major battle is still going on to keep them out of Lake Michigan in and around Chicago. The electronic barriers in the Chicago shipping channel have been holding their own, but how many carp can get around those barriers by entering the lake through other streams is unknown. In some parts of the Illinois River, commercial fishing and electrofishing have been taking place with large numbers of the fish removed.

"We've taken over 2.1 million pounds since 2010,” said Kevin Irons of Illinois DNR. “We've taken as many as 80,000 or 100,000 pounds in a given week."

After two years of research, the Army Corps of Engineers recently presented Congress with eight potential plans for protecting the Great Lakes. The proposal that’s received the most attention would cut-off Lake Michigan from Chicago’s waterways with permanent barriers. That plan could take 25 years to complete and would cost in the neighborhood of $18 billion, it has been estimated. And when you add the estimated $200 million annually that commercial shippers would lose, it’s a very expensive solution.

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Duck stamp going up
Waterfowl hunters can expect to pay an extra $10 in the near future, because a price increase for the federal duck stamp is on the way.

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee moved a bill onto the House floor on Wednesday that would raise the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp from $15 to $25 annually.

The bill should sail through the House and Senate, since it is considered a user fee and would have no impact on federal spending. The plan for the extra money is to improve conservation easements with private landowners. That use for the new money has the blessing of Ducks Unlimited because it should increase waterfowl numbers in future years.

It would be the first increase in the duck stamp price since 1991.

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