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Asian Carp DNA Found In Michigan River


Environmental officials taking steps after carp DNA found in river.

For the first time, Asian carp DNA has been detected in an inland Michigan river. Wildlife officials say they’ve turned up a single water sample from the Kalamazoo River that’s tested positive for carp DNA.

“It just tells is that we need to be aware, but we don’t conclude there’s a live fish there,” said Tammy Newcomb with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She says it’s a cause for concern – but it’s not surefire evidence that Asian carp have made their way into the Great Lakes basin. The DNA could have been carried in by a boat, or by a fish-eating bird.  “To know, would be a fish in hand.”

Newcomb says the DNA could have been carried to the river by boats or fish-eating birds. Carp DNA detected in inland waterways in other states have not turned up actual fish infestations.

Newcomb says the next step is to keep testing the water to see if there’s more DNA. Right now, the species seems to be contained in the Mississippi River system. But it’s considered a major threat if it escapes into the Great Lakes. Michigan is pressing the US Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies to spend whatever it takes to physically separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi system where they’re joined at a Chicago shipping canal.

Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.