Invasive Species: Preventing 'bad fish' from Maumee River - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Invasive Species: Preventing 'bad fish' from ruining Maumee River food chain

The Maumee river offers beautiful scenery, wildlife and a history of excellent fishing.  Catfish, smallmouth bass and of course walleye.  But could the river be on the brink of an invasion?

Have you seen the video out of Indiana?  Entire schools of large fish leaping from the water at the sound of a boat motor.

Asian carp - these fish are not native to the United States.  They were imported to the southern U.S. in the 60s and 70s to clean wastewater and fish farms.  It worked out well…until the asian carp escaped from flooded ponds and headed north.  What's the worst thing about these fish?  "They eat very low on the food chain and they eat a wide variety. What they will do is they will eat all the fish food."  -Dr. Carol Stepien, Director of the Lake Erie Research Center.

By eating all the fish food, the carp have a serious impact on native species.  In the maumee that could be the walleye.  So can these carp get into the Maumee river on their own?  There has been a theory floating around for several years:  If you follow the Maumee west to its origin in Fort Wayne, the Maumee flows northeast 137 miles to the Maumee bay and Lake Erie.  The nearby Wabash river flows past Fort Wayne and continues southwest to the Ohio river.  the Wabash river is connected to the Mississippi basin and has an established asian carp population, but is well separated from the Maumee…except for in times of flooding.

It is widely agreed the Maumee river would be a perfect setting for this invasive species.  Abundant food and water flow is conducive to spawning.  Dr. Stepien agrees, saying the carp could be the worst invasive species ever in the Great Lakes.  In response to the threat, Dr. Stepien's research team is developing an interesting test.

"We can take a glass of water from the lake or a river…and tell you whatever fish have been in that water…in the last several days."

This DNA testing is more efficient and reliable than methods like netting.  It will also give scientists a head start on battling invasive species, though it may be a losing battle when it comes to the asian carp.  Among other experts, the National Wildlife Foundation believes the only solution is complete hydrologic separation of the great lakes and the mississippi river basin.

At the eagle marsh in fort wayne the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has erected a 10 foot high nearly quarter-mile-long chain link fence to help accomplish this separation.  It is a temporary solution that no one is sure will work.

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