No need to cue the “Jaws” soundtrack. They don’t eat people.
But the giant Asian carp threatening to invade and terribly disrupt Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes must be stopped.
Too much is at stake for Wisconsin and the world’s largest freshwater system to shrug off this threat as just another in a long line of invasive species.
The Army Corps of Engineers confirmed last week that Asian carp — which can grow longer than 4 feet and heavier than 100 pounds — were detected within 10 miles of Lake Michigan. They somehow spread beyond an electric barrier that was supposed to stop them.
The Corps now plans to poison a Chicago canal. Two navigational locks near the Lake Michigan shoreline also need to close or operate with much tighter restrictions because they may be the last barriers to the open lake.
Wisconsin officials should encourage a strong response to protect Lake Michigan and its delicate ecosystem from this latest and particularly worrisome foreign invader.
It’s not that the Asian carp are inherently bad. But set loose on the Great Lakes, the monster fish could decimate native fish species and wreak havoc up and down the food chain.
The Asian carp eat huge volumes of plankton each day, leaving smaller and less aggressive competitors to starve.
The largest of the two Asian fish close to reaching Lake Michigan are known as bigheads. Yet the smaller silver carp pose their own unique threat.
Sliver carp jump out of the water when startled by motor boats. Some boaters in the Mississippi River basin where the leaping fish are abundant wear helmets to avoid being violently hit, according to the Associated Press.
The Asian carp escaped from Southern fish farms into the Mississippi River a decade ago and have been swimming north ever since.
Now they’re almost here.
Yet wildlife experts say it’s not too late to stop their spread to the Great Lakes.
Aggressive and consistent monitoring and intervention are key. Our beautiful lakes deserve swift action against infestation.
WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL, Madison.