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Protecting Lake Erie from Asian Carp

A leader in the fight against Asian carp explained what's working and how we can be prepared to fight back against the invasive species.

TOLEDO (WTOL) - Protecting Lake Erie from invasive species was the topic of discussion at a public forum at the University of Toledo Lake Erie Center.

A leader in the fight against Asian carp explained what's working and how we can be prepared to fight back against the invasive species.

It's a hard thing for some to grasp, but invasive species are all over our great lakes.

It's up to us to make sure we are doing whatever we can to prevent any further damage they might cause.

Even on a rainy day, you can see the beauty of Lake Erie. What you can't see is the threat of invasive species.

"It's beautiful and I don't want to see it damaged by what could be coming in,” said Diane Shankland, a Toledo resident who owns property along the Ottawa River.

Grass Carp is one of four species of Asian Carp. It’s been traced in Lake Erie, and the concern is that they will damage the eco-system. That’s alarming for Terry Shankland who has land along the river.

“I want to know a little bit more about them,” explained Terry Shankland. “I know they are here. They’re coming, they’ve got to. There’s no way we’re going to stop them.”

Kevin Irons is a leader in the fight against invasive Asian Carp in Illinois. They’ve seen species we haven’t including the “jumping” fish or Silver Carp.

As they have fought this invasive species from spreading, they have seen a 96 percent decline in the population over the last seven years.

“We can change the threat and the concern for fish getting into the Great Lakes because Illinois is a Great Lakes state, just like Ohio,” said Kevin Irons, manager for the aquatic nuisance species program with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“So, we can share these things with Ohio, with Michigan we can train our biologist to catch these fish.”

Irons admits it’s been years of hard work, but they are seeing success. They have barriers, fishermen to remove the species, biologist and a strategic plan. Irons grew up in Northwest Ohio and believes researchers here are on the right track to preventing further spread.

“They are studying what is going on in our water, what’s in the Sandusky River, what’s going on in the Maumee and Lake Erie as a whole,” said Irons.“So, we’re being wise about the information we’re gathering and then we can put resources in place. Can we remove enough grass carp to make a difference? And I think yes, we can.”

Kevin Irons said the Illinois DNR’s efforts bring hope. While he doubts we can eradicate Asian Carp for good, he knows we can reduce the number of the invasive species and protect our Great Lakes.