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The Great Fish Massacre of 2009

Written by PETA | December 4, 2009
chicagopublicradio / CC
Asian carp

This is one of those bizarre stories that could easily stump the panel on a “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” pick-the-fake-news-story segment.

On Wednesday night, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources dumped 2,200 gallons of deadly poison into a 5.7-mile stretch of a canal in order to prevent Asian carp from escaping the canal and entering Lake Michigan while an electronic barrier was turned off for servicing. They poisoned every single fish in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal with Rotenone, which kills fish by depleting oxygen from their blood and causes them to float to the surface of the water, where they gasp for air as they slowly suffocate.

Tens of thousands of animals lost their lives in order to kill a few carp who they thought might be in the waterway. So far, a lone carp has been found among the carnage. At a price tag of somewhere around $3 million, that has to make him or her the most expensive dead carp in history.

Asian carp, who consume nearly half their body weight in plankton every day, were originally imported in the 1970s to clean aquaculture and wastewater treatment facilities’ retention ponds. Flooding throughout the 1990s allowed the fish to escape into the Mississippi River, which is connected to the Great Lakes through a series of rivers and canals. If the fish reach the Great Lakes, it is feared that they will crowd out other species of fish and threaten the lucrative sport and commercial fishing industries.

In other words, this is a manmade threat to manmade industries that carp and other fish are paying for with their lives.

I know what you’re thinking: Surely they would only kill thousands of animals if there were no alternative? But you would be mistaken. The fish could have been kept at bay with sonic and light deterrents or by simply closing the locks while the barrier is down. But the latter would have caused shipping delays, and we can’t have that.

We understand that a plan for a back-up barrier is in the works, which is great—it just would have been nice if they’d thought of that a little sooner, before killing tens of thousands of animals and threatening the lives of other animals and humans who may inadvertently come into contact with the toxic stew they have created.

Written by Alisa Mullins

Commenting is closed.
  • Mike McElroy says:

    They are getting ready to do it again. This time on a larger scale. I just attended a public meeting with the Army Corps and ILEPA on Friday and sure enough they have established kill zones in the Chicago river cal sag and Little calumet rivers. The next public meeting is FEB 12 at 77 West Jackson suite 331 3 to 6 pm. Be there! also check out our defense of the flora and fauna of the Lucas Berg at

  • K. Johnson says:

    Carp was introduced in 60s? into Lake Superior by the Federal government. The reason sea weed was propogating and spreading to the shores of Lake Superior and its feeder steams. The carp is a voracious consumer of seaweedthus a desireable alternative to chemicals.

  • Michele says:

    More human greed and cruelty… This world is fed as long as this sort of thing continues. We have manipulated our earth so much all for money power and material goods. I think the Earth will be better off if humans became extinct then the world could continue as it did long before we ever got here and started mucking around with it all!

  • lindsay odum says:

    i dont really care bout fish but that pretty bad

  • Lesley Connor says:

    Whatever! Just another act of mindless cruelty and massacre by us humans. It just adds to the horrors of things like bear baiting animals rotting away in zoos and circuses domestic animal abuse animal torture in labs trapping animals for fur factory farming etc etc etc. Humans have developed to such an extent over the past 100 years that we can now take anything we want from this planet for our person gratification destroying everything in our way.

  • WASR-10 says:

    Ah! Invasive species. An abscence of a bag limit and catchrelocation would have worked much better in managing it than indiscriminantly and foolishly killing both them and the natives that we want.

  • Susannah says:

    As sad as this story is it’s a story that is repeated every day. Commerical fishermen now use huge trawler nets that catch up everything along the path where the net is. The unwanted fish are thrown back into the ocean dead or dying and millions of fish are killed this way all the time.

  • anne says:

    some people dont give a damn about anything but lining their pockets SAD

  • josh says:

    Idiotic humans.

  • LuAnne says:

    it never ceases to amaze me just how cruel and indifferent people are.makes me ashamed to be a human.

  • Michele says:

    Poor fish.. they always get less sympathy than all the other animals. Suffering is suffering no matter what species. Why choose such an inhumane method when there are other alternatives? I just don’t get it.

  • Leonard says:

    It bogles the mind that in these times of difficulty and major unemployment that this kind of waste spending and mind numbing spupidity in dumping poison into a Public waterway could be allowed. Who can protect us from the Illinois bureacrats in charge of state waterways which are attached to the rest of our country and other state waterways. There must be Federal laws which should prevent this? Can someone sue these people for their gross indifference and carnage? I wonder how many pigs they killed to prevent swine flue!

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    “Only two things are infinite the universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the former.” Albert Einstein

  • grace says:

    wow that is awful. i dont see how someone can not care that much. i guess that means they will release carbon monoxide on the highways now because that would be the easiest thing to do when say road work is needed or the road is closed. doesnt make any sense does it?

  • keith says:

    ” Not much hope for us is there.”

  • Brien Comerford says:

    I was raised in Chicago and live in Suburban Chicago. This fish massacre is a crime against nature and God. Thousands of innocent fish poisoned to death. The human race is plunging into perdition.

  • Sarah says:

    Nothing new. Sum it up in one word “greed.”

  • Toby says:

    People are dangerous.