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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Breach in Carp Defense System Causes Concern About Deadly Carp Invasion (Updated)

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM

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Update: Busy times on the front lines of the battle between man and Asian Carp, the deadly river fish that could 86 the entire Great Lakes' ecosystem if they should happen to sneak inside. Last month scientists discovered trace samples of carp DNA at two locations. As a caution, the Columbus Dispatch reports, state officials recently searched 58 sites for carp. None were found. All, maybe, is safe.

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Get the kids out of the water, man your spear guns, and enjoy tasty perch while you can: Deadly fish could be coming, and they’re programmed to kill.

The region’s epic fight against Asian carp — the deadly species of river swimmer that’s been banging on the shores of the Great Lakes for years, with promises to make a mess of things once they get in — might have taken a seriously bad turn. A power outage at a defensive post near Chicago — yes, we have anti-fish forts — left our flank exposed for 13 minutes last week, according to officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The outage could have allowed untold numbers of carp a free pass into the Great Lakes and its connecting canals.

What’s yet to be determined is whether the power loss was the result of a simple mechanical error or evidence of the carp’s superior brain activity.

The breach happened at a shipping canal linking the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan. There, the Army Corps has established an electronic barrier that sends out pulses to keep the carp — did we mention they’re deadly? — at bay. The outage shut off the protection on two barriers. And just like in the movies, the backup systems also failed.The Army Corps hasn’t spotted any carp near the barrier in recent years, leading to guarded optimism that the marauding fish won’t slaughter us just yet.

“It’s an incredibly effective system,” says Army Corps Lieutenant Colonel James Schreiner. Then again, that’s exactly the kind of confidence that gets people killed in deadly fish movies.

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