Asian Carp do very well here, and when they hit the Illinois River they had reached their Promised Land. Being an extremely fertile and efficient species they have reproduced to the point that some estimates have their numbers at ten billion fish just in the Illinois River. No, not a typo that, Ten Billion Asian Carp.
Normally we Americans applaud success, and to go from a couple dozen to numbers beyond comprehension in less than twenty years is an impressive feat. But the whole concept of Asians of any stripe horrifically out competing us is abrasive in these economic times. And the Asian Carp are a major nuisance. In addition to driving out native species, the darned things do this:
Nobody really knows how to get rid of the critters, but it is clear where the current front line is. The Illinois River connects to Lake Michigan through a shipping canal, which is tenuously protected by electric shock barriers. What would happen when billions of Asian Carp break through into the Great Lakes is terrible to consider.
There was actually an Asian Carp Summit held at the White House last year where officials from the several Great Lakes states got together to voice concerns. Stern memos were drafted.
Surprisingly these had little impact.
So on a blazing hot day in July three guys decided to take matters into their own hands. With roughly 3.3 billion for each of us we knew we had some work to do as we cast off into the Illinois River aboard the good ship Sulaco II.
|Number One son running the motor. He had one carp brush against his cap as it jumped clear over the boat!|
|Number Three son, better prepared for carp impact. And looking very Apocalypse Now.|
|Difficult. Not impossible!|
As we headed back to the boat landing we went past an Illinois Department of Natural Resources fish shocking boat. In the same areas where we had encountered quiet waters they had the surface churning with dozens of carp leaping simultaneously like some demented Busby Berkeley water ballet.
It makes one a bit pessimistic. Evolution is usually a slow process, but when you have billions of fish each producing thousands of offspring it will probably not be long before a mutant turns up that finds the electroshock barriers to be a pleasant experience, sort of like the Magic Fingers Beds you once saw in motels. 15 minutes later they will be through to Lake Michigan.
Perhaps stern memos will not be enough. Stern actions may also be called for. Lets hope we do not have to resort to the "Ellen Ripley Option".
"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.....It's the only way to be sure."
Addendum 11 March 2012. For those interested in a Carp safari you might try contacting these fellows. They seem like guys who are really enjoying the fight against the Carp Peril. They have some great videos of their antics. Have a look at this:
Although they employ many of the same weapons we wielded they had a lot more success. Even though they were laughing the entire time!