CHICAGO (WTAQ) - The invasive Asian carp would pose a substantial risk to all five of the Great Lakes, if it’s allowed to get a foot in the door over the next two decades.
That’s according to a risk analysis released Thursday by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
Scientists said as little as 10 mature females and even fewer males would be needed to establish a population that can mushroom, if they can find rivers connected to the Great Lakes that are suitable for spawning.
The researchers spent 16 months reviewing the bighead and silver species of Asian carp – both of which grow to large proportions as they gobble up the food that native fish rely upon. The report said the most likely path the carp would follow is along the shipping canals near Chicago.
Wisconsin and other states have gone to court to try and cut off the canals, to end a connection of waterways between Lake Michigan and the carp-infested Mississippi River.
The report says it would take longer for the bloated carp to create infestations in Lakes Superior and Ontario. But the scientists said they could survive in both lakes, despite the opinions of some exports who say Lake Superior would be too cold for the fish to survive.
Marcia McNutt, who heads the U.S. Geological Survey, says people have been asking for years whether a breeding population of Asian carp could survive in the Great Lakes, and whether it would be a major problem if it did. She says we now know that the answers are, “yes and yes.”