Officials with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), as well as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have not found any invasive bighead or silver Asian carp in western Lake Erie after spending a week using intensive electrofishing and gill netting activities in Sandusky Bay, Maumee Bay, and their main tributaries.
“The sampling results are very encouraging, especially since we intensely focused on areas where we believed we had the greatest chances of finding these fish,” said Ohio Department of Natural Resources Executive Administrator of Fish and Management Research Rich Carter. “We look forward to the results of the environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis that will help us define future actions.”
eDNA is a genetics tool developed by researchers at Notre Dame and the Nature Conservancy which detects the presence or absence of species-specific DNA in an aquatic environment, such as the cells shed by Asian carp through their feces, urine, mucus, and gills.
The intensive search in western Lake Erie was conducted after six water samples collected from Sandusky and North Maumee bays recently tested positive for the presence of Asian carp eDNA, according to the DNR.
The six water samples were among the 417 collected from Lake Erie in August 2011 and analyzed and confirmed by eDNA researchers earlier in July. Four samples from Sandusky Bay tested positive for bighead carp eDNA, and two samples from North Maumee Bay in Michigan waters were positive for silver carp eDNA.
Both fish are among four species of Asian carp considered to be major threats to the Great Lakes and have been found in the Illinois River.
“We are committed to supporting our state DNR partners in the field,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “Service staff will continue to work side-by-side with DNR employees both on the water and in the labs as we try to answer the question, ‘Are there any live Asian carp in the Sandusky and Maumee areas?’ This … sampling has not provided any physical evidence that Asian carp are in these two waterways.”