In an effort to control Asian carp in the Great Lakes, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other groups today are scheduled to release the chemical rotenone into six miles of the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, poisoning all fish along that strip.
The carp can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow up to 4 feet long. The fear, according to the Great Lakes Boating Federation, is if they migrate into the lakes, the Asian carp would dominate the ecosystem, preventing native fish from surviving.
Asian carp also are known to strike boaters when they leap into the air, disturbed by vibrations from passing motors.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the canal Wednesday to perform maintenance on a key electrical barrier, temporarily taking it out of commission. When active, the barrier protects Lake Michigan from the potential invasion of the carp. The Corps is scheduled to close the canal for four or five days.
"The Chicago locks are the gateways for recreational boating in and out of the Great Lakes and into the Mississippi and on to the Gulf of Mexico. With the end of the boating season upon us, we support this initiative to close the locks, but only on a temporary basis," said F. Ned Dikmen, chairman of the Great Lakes Boating Federation, in a statement.