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Great Lakes Article:

U.S. finds funds for fence to stop carp
Aim is to protect Great Lakes fish
By Michael Hawthorne
Chicago Tribune

Under pressure from members of Congress, the Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to pay for a new electric fence to stop gluttonous Asian carp from swimming into Lake Michigan.

Corps officials in Chicago have nearly completed designing a more permanent barrier to replace electrical cables that were strung across the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal two years ago and are starting to wear out.

But officials in the corps' Washington headquarters decided last month to cut $4.4 million needed to complete the job, citing a need to pay for ongoing work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After a flurry of meetings with and telephone calls and letters from angry Great Lakes lawmakers, the corps' top brass assured them Friday there will be enough money to build the fish fence this summer.

"It's rare to see the entire delegation so strongly united on a project," said U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), who represents the area where the new barrier will be built. "We can't let this species get into the Great Lakes."

Asian carp ate their way up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers in the last decade after escaping from fish farms during flooding in Southern states. The females lay millions of eggs, and adults devour up to 40 percent of their body weight in a day, mostly by straining out tiny organisms that provide the base of the food chain for popular sport fish such as bass and walleye.

If the carp get into Lake Michigan via the canal, officials fear they could cause more ecological and economic damage to the Great Lakes than the sea lampreys, zebra mussels and other invasive species that already are wreaking havoc in the massive freshwater ecosystem. Commercial and sport fishing in the lakes is a $4 billion-a-year industry.

Jolts of electricity from cables strung across the bottom of the canal have persuaded fish to turn back. Scientists also are experimenting with bursts of air bubbles and sound waves to keep the carp from spreading.

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