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The DNA of six Asian carp were detected in Illinois just a few miles from the shore of Lake Michigan, sounding alarm bells among those hoping to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week announced that the environmental DNA (eDNA) of three bighead carp and three silver carp were found in Lake Calumet, south of Chicago near the Indiana border.

It is unclear if any actual fish were found, officials monitoring the situation said.

“The finding of bighead and silver carp eDNA in Lake Calumet, just a few miles from Lake Michigan, is troubling news," said Molly Flanagan, the vice president of policy for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes. "It’s a stark reminder that we don’t have time to waste. While the agencies continue monitoring and assessing the status of Asian carp, we need to move quickly with the construction of additional Asian carp protections at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam.”

Jennifer Caddick, the vice president of communications and engagement for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, said this isn't an indication that Asian carp are in the Great Lakes but the eDNA findings show the fish were close by. "It's sort of a warning light," she said.

Caddick said there are still a series of locks before leading into Lake Michigan from Lake Calumet

Advocates seeking to protect the Great Lakes have long been trying to keep the invasive species out of the system. Illinois officials have been discussing a stronger lock and dam system aimed at to protect Lake Michigan from Asian carp.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also has weighed in on federal plans to keep carp out of the Great Lakes with some support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to install fish-blocking devices at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow released a statement about the latest development, saying "news once again demonstrates the urgent need to take action to stop Asian carp" from entering the Great Lakes.

"I will continue leading bipartisan efforts to ensure sufficient funding to monitor, detect, and take emergency actions against this threat," she said. "At the same time, the Army Corps and the administration must finally send Congress comprehensive plans for Brandon Road while also pursuing every possible option to prevent Asian carp from entering and wreaking havoc on the Great Lakes."

lfleming@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2620

Twitter:@leonardnfleming

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