Great Lakes Region –Residents from towns around Lake Michigan and Western Lake Erie are on guard this Halloween as they fear a replay of last year’s Land Carp attacks in Des Plaines, Ind. where several residents were brutally chomped upon by a land roving Asian carp masquerading as a cat fish. A few towns have gone so far as to cancel trick-or-treating as a safety measure.
“It really is too bad that a year has passed and no one has stopped the carp,” lamented Erie Township Mayor Dan Brown. “At the last minute, the City Council decided it was safer to just cancel Halloween all together.” After the press conference where the canceled children’s holiday was announced, Marion Ruddemeir told the Associated Press, “There was just no way I would let my children out there, not with those huge teethy fish around.”
No one has actually seen a Land Carp since last year’s attacks, but the leg wielding evolutionary gem of a carp, has left e-DNA samples beyond the electronic barrier and very near the Great Lakes. Experts speculate that the hefty fish has its sights on Canada as they seem to admire royalty and like hockey (at least the fights – Asian Carp are known for sending fishermen to the hospital with broken jaws).
“Our forensic team analyzed the eDNA and found the fish has a predilection for the Queen and the Maple Leafs, which must be why we have found traces of the beasts from the Mississippi River all the way to the Lake Michigan,” said Richard Dorph, a biologist at the University of Michigan, when explaining an eDNA forensic analysis.
In late June, a commercial fisherman patrolling Lake Calumet found a large carp beyond the O’Brien barrier with nothing between the fish and Lake Michigan. The species had sprouted two inch legs but was not yet able to hold its bodyweight. Experts believe that the legs of roving land carp have to reach several feet before the carp can leave the water.
After last year’s sightings, some members of the US Congress proposed urgent legislation that would halt the advance of the fish, but the bill sputtered, and then stalled. The Canadian Embassy has been forthright in its demands that the US do something.
The fish, being of Southern descent, has taken its time marching North– at least 17 years, and as the Canadian’s point out – the US knew the fish was advancing and did very little to try and stop it. Since then, the fish has sprouted legs and overcome not just the soothing low-voltage electronic barriers, but has been able to transverse land. Last year, the fish – elevated to ground level via flooding in the Des Plaines River – used the guise of Halloween to hide their migration. Most were ordinary, decent Asian carp, but at least one cheeky dissenter wandered into nearby neighborhoods and terrorized residents.
“This was so tragically predictable,” said US Rep. Candy Mills, (D-Mich.), who is among the writers of the Carp Act, the bill that would try and stop the fish first by closing the shipping locks and then by other means. “For years, myself and so many others have raised concerns over this issue and were criticized for it or told we were overreacting. Today, our worst fears have been confirmed.”
But Illinois refuses to close the locks and is hesitant about long term, more permanent solutions because they fear any move will terminate the regional shipping industry and harm the local economy.
“Don’t they get that the fish themselves will eventually destroy the shipping industry and completely eradicate recreational boating?” asked Sarah Goode, a resident of Michigan who has organized the Mothers Against Land Area Roving Carp Initiative (MALARCI). “I mean, where is Rahm Emanuel? Can’t he talk some sense into these folks?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Emanuel was the Land Carp. I bet he dressed up just to scare people into voting for him for mayor of Chicago,” interjected Matt White, a bargeman and protester outside the MALARCI rally.
Still, after the fisherman’s discovery in Lake Calumet, the US Army Corps promised to continue to operate the locks as they always do. “At this time we see no reason…to take any step toward lock closure,” Lance Davis, a spokesman for the Corps said. He added that the Corps is considering building a bridge for the leggy carps to help get them get out of the country quicker. “There are funds in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative meant for invasive species, we could use those dollars to build the bridge,” Davis added.
Despite eyewitness accounts and vivid evidence, including some very bloody wounds, some in the government and the Chicago area doubt the existence of the fantastical beasts. The original urgency felt last year to deal with the invasion has been significantly muted. Meanwhile, residents feel the need to cancel Halloween and the Canadians, well; they are left quaking in anticipation of a near-future assault.