7/13/2019 11:15:00 AM IDNR mulling ways to solve Lake Decatur issue
DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is considering options to deal with thousands of invasive Asian carp that are clustering near the base of the Lake Decatur dam.
Jacques Nuzzo, program director for the Illinois Raptor Center, said he contacted the state department after taking drone footage that revealed the fish were gathered there.
“I realized they were Asian carp and I thought, well, this isn’t good,” Nuzzo said. “I’ve seen Asian carp here, but I’ve never seen this many at once.”
The invasive species can cause serious damage in lakes and rivers by out-competing native fish populations for food and space, scientists said. Steps have already been taken to keep the fish out of Lake Decatur. Officials said despite the dramatic appearance, the situation isn’t dire.
“We have taken measures in the past to prevent the fish from getting over the dam,” City Manager Scot Wrighton said. “DNR has been contacted, but in the meantime, they can’t get over the dam because of what we already have in place.”
Kevin Irons, the department’s aquaculture and aquatic nuisance species program manager, said the fish are not presently posing any danger to Lake Decatur, as there is no indication they can get over the dam.
“While it may seem like mass amounts of fish, it’s really not that much compared to the rest of the state,” Irons said.
The department and Lake Decatur staffers are still trying to figuring what to do about the carp issue, he added.
“We are weighing our options like having commercial fishermen come in or potentially go a different route, but we are looking to make a decision soon,” Irons said.
In May, The Army Corps of Engineers approved a $778M plan to block Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
As of late June, a survey found no Asian carp in Chicago-area waterways. U.S. states and Canadian provinces agreed Wednesday to endorse a plan in order to build up defenses to protect the Great Lakes.