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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Creepy Carp Story Gets Ever Creepier

Rat has been keeping you apprised a fellow vermin’s progress (hmm, “Vermin’s Progress” – possible book title) up the Mississippi, up the Illinois River -- and now just one great leap over an electric fence and through a few easy-to-pass-through navigation locks, to clean new territory -- Lake Michigan.

Not to be alarmist or anything, but get ready, Cheeseheads: these finned monsters could be headed your way via your favorite river if they get to Lake Michigan: West Bend, Appleton, Mequon, Packwaukee, Portage.

First, the biology of this vermin’s progress, and then some “human geology,” and then the politics. They have found DNA evidence of Asian carp well past the electric fence (barrier) on the Illinois River. First they found some in a shipping channel well away from Lake Michigan. Now it is reported that more Asian carp DNA is found north of the city of Chicago. That’s one long haul from the Illinois River, and that’s creepy.

Here’s the human geology part, if you can call it that. Chicago did not want to dump its shit into its drinking water, so it re-engineered the Chicago River to flow away from Lake Michigan and to the Illinois River. Because that route has now been developed, the Asian carp has an entry ramp to Lake Michigan, and of course to every river that feeds it.

Now for the politics. A bunch of Great Lakes states wants to crack open a century-old agreement that lets Chicago do what I described above – send trillions of gallons of water a year out of Lake Michigan and down the Mississippi.

Them’s HUGE fightin’ words for Illinois – including the state’s current favorite son, Barack Obama, whose solicitor general got the administration behind Illinois’ pathetically weak case to not revisit that water agreement because the state thinks the Asian carp is no big deal.

People are starting to ask whether the Obama regime’s big investment in funding for the Great Lakes might be money down a sewage canal if the Asian carp gets established in Lake Michigan (and presumably in other Great Lakes). Scientists seem to disagree just how much they’ll take over.

But check any video on YouTube these days and watch these critters. You decide if you think they might do just fine if they found their way up, say, the Root River at Racine.

Last word: Rat’s not nostalgic about the golden age of the newspaper, but I do lament the loss of good hard-headed reporting and journalism. It seems alive and well, at least for this topic, with superb reporting about if by Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Here’s that paper’s latest coverage of where they found carp DNA.

1 comment:

  1. They'll certainly end up in Portage, no matter what happens to Chicago. There is nothing stopping their spread anywhere in the Mississippi drainage and that obviously includes the Wisconsin River and all its tribitaries.

    That being said, their biology precludes them from becoming the menace they are on the lower Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois. They are plankton (filter) eaters and the food just isn't there fore them to explode like they have in warmer and /or "greener" waters. Places like Buffalo Lake, the Yahara and maybe the Kickapoo River will see them move in and reduce the number of native species but the clearer waters will see them mainly as migrating spawners.

    The truth is, there really is no stopping them. We can only slow them down.