It is a mistake to allow import of animals that have the potential to wipe out lots of species. Pythons are making major in-roads in south Florida.
When researchers struck out to count animals along a main road that runs to the southernmost tip of the park, more than 99 percent of raccoons were gone, along with nearly the same percentage of opossums and about 88 percent of bobcats. Marsh and cottontail rabbits, as well as foxes, could not be found.
Look at the Asian carp spreading up and down the Mississippi and tributary rivers. That's an even bigger mistake in my view.
I am curious to know whether in a few decades cheap and very cheap electronic monitoring systems will make it possible to wipe out some of the invasive species. If we can just watch a large area at a fine enough level of granularity then it might become possible to track down every member of an invading species and wipe it out even if it is well concealed most of the time.
In an urgent effort to close down Chicago-area passages that could allow the unwanted fish to reach Lake Michigan, the State of Michigan is suing the State of Illinois and other entities that govern the waterways here. Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin have filed documents in recent days supporting Michiganís move, and Indiana says it will soon do the same.
My take: the states around the Great Lakes have been seriously slow in stepping to the threat posed by Asian carp. They shouldn't have waited until Asian carp reached several miles from the Great Lakes before getting around to suing the very negligent and irresponsible state of Illinois. This is serious.
Two species of Asian carp -- the bighead and silver -- were imported by catfish farmers in the 1970's to remove algae and suspended matter out of their ponds. During large floods in the early 1990s, many of the catfish farm ponds overflowed their banks, and the Asian carp were released into local waterways in the Mississippi River basin.
The carp have steadily made their way northward up the Mississippi, becoming the most abundant species in some areas of the River.
They outcompete native fish species that have much more economic value.
Asian Carp are a significant threat to the Great Lakes because they are large, extremely prolific, and consume vast amounts of food. They can weigh up to 100 pounds, and can grow to a length of more than four feet. They are well-suited to the climate of the Great Lakes region, which is similar to their native Asian habitats.
Researchers expect that Asian carp would disrupt the food chain that supports the native fish of the Great Lakes. Due to their large size, ravenous appetites, and rapid rate of reproduction, these fish could pose a significant risk to the Great Lakes Ecosystem.
"We have to take care of this problem permanently," says Marc Gaden of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a joint U.S.-Canadian commission that coordinates fisheries management. "We need pure biological separation between the Mississippi River basin and the Great Lakes basin."
Chicago business and political interests do not want to lose easy use of barges for shipping. So there's a fight.