By now, it is old news that the Illinois River is full of invasive carp.
The name you hear most often is Asian carp, but that is a general term that covers several species of the invasive creatures.
The State of Illinois recently released its 2017 Action Plan for handling and studying this issue.
The two most common carp species, under the Asian carp heading, are the silver carp and the bighead carp.
However, grass carp and black carp populations are spreading and the plan released by the state mentions that these two species will be monitored closely.
Illinois has used multiple methods to try and curb the carp problem. There is an electric barrier that is located just upstream from Brandon Road Lock and Dam.
The Dresden Pool is downstream from there and has employed the following methods of Asian carp removal between 2011 and 2015: contracted fishing harvest, trammel net deployment, gill net deployment, electrofishing, hoop net deployment and mini-fyke net deployment.
You may have seen some of the contracted fishing boats driving around.
They are huge flat-bottom boats that look like aquatic tanks. I see them all the time driving between Channahon and Morris. Those professionals are here to combat the invasive fish.
You may be wondering why is the State of Illinois so concerned with this invasive species?
The goal is to keep them out of the Great Lakes.
As I read through the Action Plan, I found an interesting graphic that displayed information about life-cycle stages and the distance those stages were found from Lake Michigan.
According to the report, the Dresden pool is considered 47 miles from Lake Michigan and has an adult population Asian carp. The Marseilles pool is 62 miles from Lake Michigan and has both adults and potential spawners.
The Starved Rock pool, 88 miles from Lake Michigan, has both adult and juvenile carp, and the Peoria pool, 102 miles from Lake Michigan, has all stages of the Asian carp life-cycle present.
Asian carp eggs have been found in the Marseilles, Starved Rock and Peoria pools.
Illinois, along with a host of other agencies and neighboring states, has also been testing and researching other methods of containment and removal.
One of the more interesting methods I read about involved the use of carbon dioxide.
Upon further reading, I discovered that in tests conducted last year, research ponds that were injected with a stream of carbon dioxide kept the carp located at the far end of the pond.
They refused to swim in the water with the gas.
This method is being studied as a nonbarrier method of containment. In other words, it would not be a physical barrier like the electric one currently being used. More studies are being done to test the effects on different fish species.
There is also research being done on a method called microparticle technology.
This method, as much as I understand it, deals with the fact that Asian carp are filter feeders. If methods of delivering control agents can be administered to the water that would not harm native species, than this can also be a viable method of containment.
The 2017 Action Plan is available in pdf form at www.ifishillinois.org/invasive/2017ActionPlan.
I know that scientific journals and lengthy government reports can be a chore to read, but I found the information fascinating.
I like to know what is happening to our local water resources.
I see the commercial fishing boats constantly and I hear of people having numerous run-ins with these invasive fish.
I encourage you to take a look and keep updated on how our state government is trying to protect our natural resources.