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Invasive species in Great Lakes partially blamed on anglers

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 8:54 p.m.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Inadequate regulation of the bait fish trade and carelessness on the part of anglers may be allowing invasive species — including widely feared Asian carp — to reach the Great Lakes and inland waterways, according to a scientific paper released on Thursday.

Researchers with Central Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame said they tested water samples from tanks containing small fish for sale as bait at more than 500 shops across the eight states on the lakes and found that 27 tested positive for invasive species' DNA. Positive hits for silver carp, one of the Asian varieties threatening to reach the Great Lakes, were recorded in three water samples from shops along the Lake Erie shore in Ohio.

The team detected genetic material from round goby, tubenose goby and Eurasian rudd, which are in the Great Lakes, although authorities hope to prevent them from reaching inland lakes and other waters. They found traces of goldfish, which are classified as an invasive foreign species despite being widely available for purchase at pet stores.

“While overall only a small percentage of bait shops had evidence of invasive species, it is nevertheless alarming that at least some invaders are being spread by anglers, the very group of people that value the Great Lakes fishery the most,” said Andrew Mahon, one of the paper's co-authors and a molecular ecologist at Central Michigan's Institute for Great Lakes Research. The report was being published in the journal Conservation Biology.

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