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Categorized | Outdoors

Six Lake Erie water samples test positive for Asian carp eDNA


From Michigan and Ohio DNR

Federal and state wildlife officials working in conjunction with academic researchers announced last week that six water samples taken from Sandusky and north Maumee bays tested positive for the presence of Asian carp environmental DNA in Michigan and Ohio waters.

Michelle Budny from the University of Notre Dame collects a water sample from Lake Erie for eDNA screening

Michelle Budny from the University of Notre Dame collects a water sample from Lake Erie for eDNA screening. Photo credit: Lindsay Chadderton, The Nature Conservancy.

The positive samples were among 417 taken from Lake Erie in August 2011, and more than 2,000 samples taken from the Great Lakes Basin since 2010. The Lake Erie batch was recently analyzed and test results were confirmed by eDNA researchers last week. The six positive samples represent less than 1.5 percent of the Lake Erie samples.

Four samples from Sandusky Bay, in Ohio waters, tested positive for bighead carp eDNA, while two samples from north Maumee Bay, in Michigan waters, were positive for silver carp eDNA.

In response to these findings, electro-shocking and netting began Friday in Sandusky Bay with no evidence of Asian carp found. However, additional testing and monitoring are planned by the Ohio and Michigan Departments of Natural Resources in conjunction with partner agencies.

The findings indicate the presence of genetic material left behind by the species, such as scales, excrement or mucous, but not the establishment of Asian carp in Lake Erie. Positive eDNA tests are regarded by the scientific community as an indicator of the species’ recent presence, however, positive results can occur whether the organism was alive or dead.

While the eDNA findings suggest the possible presence of the invasive species, officials have no physical evidence the fish have migrated to the Great Lakes. Prior to 2003, three individual bighead carp were collected in Lake Erie. No additional observations have been reported during the past decade.

“The results from these water samples are certainly concerning, as this marks the first time Asian carp eDNA has been detected in water samples from Lake Erie, or any of the Michigan waters intensively surveyed for the presence of invasive carp,” said Michigan DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “Protecting the Great Lakes from the threat of Asian carp is critical to the health of our sport and commercial fisheries and to the quality of life in Michigan. We are actively engaged in Asian carp surveillance programs throughout the Great Lakes, including Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, and the Department stands ready to take the necessary and appropriate actions to investigate and respond to these test results.”

Asian carp, including bighead and silver carp, pose a significant threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy. Anglers are urged to become familiar with the identification of Asian carp, including both adults and juveniles, as the spread of juvenile Asian carp through the use of live bait buckets has been identified as a potential point of entry into Great Lakes waters.

A video demonstrating how to identify bighead and silver carp can be viewed on the USFWS YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/B49OWrCRs38. Identification guides, frequently asked questions, management plans and an online reporting form are available online at www.michigan.gov/asiancarp and www.wildohio.com, or call 800-WILDLIFE.

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