Asian carp DNA found in Lake Michigan

Supreme Court will not force Chicago canal lock closure

DNA of invasive species of Asian carp have been discovered in the Great Lakes despite prevention efforts. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a suit that would close Illinois locks to stop the spread of the carp.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to force the closure of locks on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Tuesday, while fears persist of an oncoming invasion from non-indigenous and potentially destructive Asian carp to the Great Lakes.

The state of Michigan asked the court for a temporary injunction to have the locks closed immediately.

Last December, Michigan filed suit against Illinois and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt Illinois’ diversion of lake water via the canal. Michigan, joined by five Great Lakes states including Wisconsin, cited the dangerous potential of the carp to ecologically wreck the Great Lakes. The suit also sought to protect the $7.3 billion Great Lakes sport fishing industry from the aquatic invaders. It would reopen a case originally filed by Wisconsin in 1922.

But most of the locks are used for navigational purposes, and closing them could be a disaster for the boating and shipping industries that move $16 billion in cargo in and out of the state each year.

Robyn Ziegler, a spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, said their office is “very pleased with the court’s decision.”

The court will now decide whether to hear the diversion case. Madigan and her office have until Feb. 19 to file a brief explaining why the court isn’t within the correct jurisdiction to rule on the case.

No actual carp have been found in Lake Michigan. However, water samples taken by the University of Notre Dame in December have confirmed a positive environmental DNA result of Asian carp found past an electrical barrier constructed to block the fish.

Another Asian carp DNA result was found near the T.J. O’Brien lock on the Calumet River — a lock Michigan and the Great Lakes states sought to close.

The Obama administration declared support for Illinois in the debate. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox reacted angrily to the administration’s decision, and called for an emergency meeting with the president to discuss policies to contain the carp.

“Michigan residents are outraged that Obama’s administration and Illinois officials refuse to take action,” Cox said.

By request of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the White House agreed Wednesday to host a carp summit with Great Lakes states governors in early February.

Before Michigan took its concerns to the Supreme Court, the Council of Great Lakes Governors had written to Defense Secretary Robert Gates in November, urging him to take aggressive action and provide detailed plans to deal with the Asian carp.