Officials from Michigan and Ohio are ramping up efforts to find out if any live Asian carp are in western Lake Erie – and they’d like anglers to help out by providing any information they might turn up.
A round of recent water samples from the Sandusky Bay and Sandusky River – the results of which were announced this week -- included some that tested positive for the presence of Asian carp environmental DNA. Those are in addition to older, previously announced water samples that had tested positive for carp eDNA from Sandusky Bay in Ohio waters and north Maumee Bay in Michigan waters.
Officials say the latest results heighten concern about the possible presence of Asian carp in western Lake Erie, but they note no live fish have been found. Researchers say the evidence can’t verify whether live Asian carp are present. It’s possible the DNA came from a dead fish or from fish-eating birds. The Asian carp eDNA also could have made it to the lake from water in ship hulls or storm sewers.
No Asian carp were found through electrofishing and test netting. A recent Department of Natural Resources press release says that data suggests if Asian carp are present at all, they are in “very low abundance.”
Officials are starting to dig deeper in their investigation. Ohio officials did more electroshock and netting this week. Michigan officials are preparing to do more sampling as well.
“We intend to go back in,” said Todd Kalish of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Some groups want fast, aggressive action to control the carp and other invasive species that threaten the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy. Asian carp DNA also has been found in Chicago-area waters near Lake Michigan, and that continues to be a primary focus for researchers.
Officials are asking anglers to be on the lookout. They want commercial fishing operations and others to learn how to identify Asian carp, including their minnows, and to notify officials if they notice anything that suggests their presence.
If anglers have caught or seen an Asian carp, they are asked to notify Ohio officials or Michigan officials.
"If you see anything or catch anything out of the ordinary, let us know," Kalish said.