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News from around Wisconsin (11:11 p.m. 12/11/09)

Lawmakers seek emergency steps to halt Asian carp

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Members of Congress are demanding emergency action to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and devastating their $7 billion fishery.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday to close two locks near Chicago that could provide a pathway for the carp to reach Lake Michigan and eventually spread to the other Great Lakes.

“I believe that temporarily sealing this waterway as we analyze the situation at hand and decide on a long-term management strategy is a reasonable course of action,” Gillibrand said in a letter to federal agencies working to limit the carp’s migration.

Other lawmakers were seeking money for further steps, including more testing in areas where Asian carp DNA has been detected in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Calumet-Sag Channel. Both are part of a 300-mile linkage between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River.

Bighead and silver carp, both Asian species, have been moving up the waterway since escaping from Deep South fish farms and sewage lagoons in the 1970s. Recent DNA sampling suggests at least some may have gotten past an electrical barrier on the ship canal designed to halt their advance, and could be within 6 miles of the lake.

Scientists said if they reach the lakes and multiply, they could outcompete native species for plankton and disrupt the food chain, decimating popular sport and commercial varieties such as salmon and whitefish.

Army Corps officials told members of Congress on Thursday they needed $13.5 million during the 2010 fiscal year for immediate measures, said Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican.

Barn fire kills 1,200 quail in NE Wisconsin

MAPLE GROVE, Wis. (AP) — About 1,200 quail and an alpaca were killed in an early morning barn fire in Shawano County of northeastern Wisconsin.

The fire broke out around 6:30 a.m. Friday in the town of Maple Grove. Officials said the barn was destroyed. No people were hurt.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

A two-mile section of Wisconsin Highway 156 was closed for about three hours as firefighters battled the blaze.

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