Environment officials are working hard to stop the Asian carp from making its way to the Great Lakes. The issue is so worrisome that it surfaced during a debate on September 28 between Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate candidates, former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin.
The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel said Thompson showed “real passion” on the subject and that he was “adamant that authorities need to put in a barrier to stop the invasive species from wreaking havoc on the Great Lakes.”
The newspaper made sure to note that concern for the Great Lakes, was “shared by his opponent, Rep. Tammy Baldwin.”
It’s certainly something that concerns the residents of the state. A recent poll done by Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition revealed that 80 percent of Wisconsin voters are familiar with Asian carp and 60 percent are in favor of erecting some kind of barrier on the Chicago canal system to block them from coming into Lake Michigan.
“Although it is unusual to find an issue that brings voters together across the values and beliefs that divide us, such issues do exist, and in Wisconsin, protecting Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes is one,” said Paul Fallon, president of the Columbus, Ohio-based Fallon Research & Communications, Inc., which conducted the survey, in a Coalition release. “Our polling indicates that protecting the Great Lakes is one issue that unites Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Wisconsin voters across the political spectrum want the federal government to continue its effort to restore the Great Lakes.”
“This should be a wake-up call to both presidential campaigns,” said Emma White, senior director at Belden Russonello Strategists, LLC, a Washington, D.C.–based polling firm that has advised the Coalition, in the release. “To be successful in Wisconsin and other swing states, candidates must not only hold their base vote but also attract independent, unaffiliated voters. This poll shows that standing up to protect the Great Lakes and taking action to beat back an Asian carp invasion are winning issues among this critical constituency.”
The Wall Street Journal reported October 9 that another search for Asian carp will take place next week in Chicago-area waters following the discovery of genetic material close to Lake Michigan.
DNA from silver carp, one of the Asian species threatening the Great Lakes, showed up in 17 of 57 samples from the Chicago River taken in September.
Scientists are not sure if this means there are live fish present or if the DNA was brought in from elsewhere by fish-eating birds or bilge water from ships, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Critics say the electric barrier and other measures to protect the Great Lakes from the Asian carp are working well, critics aren’t so sure. A federal lawsuit filed by Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan calls for separating the lakes from the carp-infested Mississippi River basin by building structures in the Chicago waterways.
Federal attorneys have asked that the lawsuit be dismissed because the Army Corps of Engineers has been ordered by Congress to complete a study by January 2014 on how to close pathways for invasive species between the Mississippi basin and the Great Lakes, but critics say that’s not soon enough.
"Asian carp are knocking at the front door of the Great Lakes, and we cannot afford to wait on a federal government that fails to act," Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told the Wall Street Journal.