Asian Carp are filter feeders, feeding on zooplankton, phytoplankton and organic particles that are suspended in water columns. They have a very large filtering capacity and their maximum size can reach greater than 3 feet long and 100 pounds (Butz, pg. 20). They have been found in the Illinois River since the 1990's. The problem is that to grow to that size, they have voracious appetites. The Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) have been catching them in the routine monitoring of the La Grange Reach, Illinois River since 1995 and 1998. The population has increased rapidly since 2000 and now dominates the fish community on the La Grange Reach (Sharp, pg. 42). They are in constant contest for the same feeding grounds with river fishes such as gizzard shad and bigmouth buffalo and the shad and buffalo are losing. In fact, the buffalo and gizzard are not being eaten, they continue to lose size and weight until they die so they are just being starved out.
Most recently Asian Carp DNA has been found east of the Chicago lock which is just 8 miles from the entrance into Lake Michigan. There has now been a great deal of controversy over closing the Chicago lock and canal. The canal and lock manage most of the shipping business for the State of Illinois as well as the sewage from Chicago. This would lead to decreased shipping and a large loss of income for the people of Chicago and the State of Illinois but it would also affect other nearby States. The problem is that if the Carp get into Lake Michigan, there will be no controlling them and the Lake could be decimated of its fish population and the commerce related to it, which is already a fragile eco-system (Guarno, 2010). The Lakes have been a matter of eco-system work for some years. At one point, Lake Michigan was so dirty that it was not wholly safe to eat the fish. It has taken many years and millions of dollars to clean the eco-system up which is just beginning to thrive again.
Recently in an effort to stop the invasive species without closing the Chicago lock more than a dozen Federal, State, and Local agencies got together to do some major poisonings and held a press conference in November. Biologist fear the fish will devastate the lakes to the tune of $7 billion in destruction of fishery so it was allowed to dump 2200 gallons of poison in the Chicago canal. The total cost of the poison and those to perform this task was 3 million dollars. Dead fish were dragged from the water and there was only one Asian Carp among them. However, this does not mean they did not exist and the they have not reached Lake Michigan.
It is believed that they will have to adapt the Lake because they spawn in fast moving water but studies prove that they adapt quickly. They also have the advantage of being a non-native species in the sense that studies now show that non-native species have a better chance of surviving in climate changes which are occurring because they have already adapted once. The White has held the Asian Carp Summit in a effort to deal with the fish as well as the methods of bringing non-native species of animals to the United States under any circumstances. A secondary issue that is being discussed is the fact that this species would not be moving into the Lake if man did not consistently change eco-systems to provide for themselves and the Chicago canal is an example. Though it does have fish blocks up, they may get