Last week the state Fish and Boat Commission and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reported that circumstantial evidence suggests the presence of invasive Asian silver carp in the upper reaches of the Ohio River.
None of the fish have been found living or dead, but the carp's genetic matter was found in water samples collected Oct. 21-22 by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Environmental DNA samples were found near Aliquippa, Beaver County, and near Chester, Hancock County, W.Va. Environmental DNA is found on material such as scales, excrement and mucous.
The term "Asian carp" refers to grass, black, silver and bighead carp, the last of which was not detected. Asian carp were imported to the U.S. to remove algae from commercial fish pools, but escaped into the Mississippi River. Their voracious appetite and fast reproduction make Asian carp a significant threat to aquatic ecosystems.
"This is an early warning sign, since we don't know for certain the origin of the genetic material," said Fish and Boat executive director John Arway, in a written statement. "We don't know if the eDNA came from live or dead fish or if it was transported from other sources, like bilge water or storm sewers, or even waterfowl visiting the basin."
Learn more about Asian carp, and how anglers can help to control them, at http://asiancarp.us.
Endangered species bill
"To put it simply, HB 1576 is the worst single piece of legislation I have ever seen proposed," wrote Fish and Boat Commission board member Len Lichvar of Somerset County, in an op-ed published last week in the Somerset Daily American.
The bill would strip Fish and Boat and the Game Commission of their power to declare species threatened or endangered.
The alternative regulatory commission, wrote Lichvar, "has no scientific advisers or scientifically trained members or any expertise in the field, and neither do the individual legislators. Both the PFBC and the PGC do have the scientific expertise and conduct rigorous and extremely transparent processes for designating the species or in designating wild trout water.
"The process includes peer reviews and lengthy public input opportunities with agency review and response. The current process keeps the science in and the politics out."
Lichvar wrote that wildlife agency staff are working with legislative leaders to mediate their differences in advance of a House vote.