SANDUSKY, Ohio – Oct. 29, 2013 – Ducks Unlimited is evaluating news that the U.S. Geological Survey has found evidence of breeding grass carp in Lake Erie's Sandusky River. This is the first evidence that this variety of Asian carp is capable of breeding in the waters of the Great Lakes.
"We're waiting to hear a little more on this news; it's not as simple as it sounds," said DU Director of Public Policy Gildo Tori. "These fish did not enter through the Mississippi watershed. Grass carp have been released in Ohio for quite some time, but supposedly only triploid – or sterile – individuals. Evidence of reproduction concerns DU because of the potential impact of grass carp on submersed vegetation."
Millions of waterfowl migrate through western Lake Erie each spring and fall, and many rely on submersed aquatic vegetation to fuel their flights to the wintering grounds and then back to the breeding grounds. Expansion of grass carp can seriously impact waterfowl numbers, and consequently hinder the economic benefits of activities such as hunting and bird watching.
"Grass carp can have serious impacts on diving ducks," said Russ Terry, manager of conservation for Ducks Unlimited in Ohio. "Carp can consume huge quantities of submersed vegetation, which are an important food source for ducks such as canvasbacks, scaup and redheads."
While this incursion is separate from the carp threat most often associated with the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS), Ducks Unlimited Inc. and Ducks Unlimited Canada support the ecological separation of the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds to prevent carp and other invasive species from spreading into the Great Lakes.