The Great Lakes are under the threat of invasion by a foreign species — and the debate is raging on how it can be prevented.
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State and federal agencies are at war with the Asian carp, an invasive fish species that can grow to lengths of up to five feet and weigh more than a hundred pounds.
“Once an invasive species is established, it’s really, really hard to eradicate,” said Roger Germann, executive vice president of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.
With no natural predators and insatiable appetites, Asian carp can eradicate entire fish populations by consuming nearly all of the available plankton, which are the primary food source for most fish.
Asian carp have slowly worked their way up the Mississippi River over the last 40 years after being brought to the United States from Asia in the 1970s to help get rid of algae on catfish farms and wastewater treatment ponds. In recent years, however, the carp have been found in northern parts of the Illinois River, about 40 miles southwest of Lake Michigan.