Desperate to stop Asian carp from invading the fresh, placid waters of the Great Lakes, Illinois lawmakers have proposed what some have called an “unconventional solution” to stop this invasive species dead in its tracks.
What is this unconventional solution?
Well, as the title of this article suggests, allowing citizens to gun down these plankton-gobbling bottom feeders with shotguns.
Last week, Illinois Rep. Dave Winters (R-Shirland) introduced H.B. 5317, a bill that would amend the Fish and Aquatic Life Code to allow “permit licensed individuals to shoot Asian carp with a shotgun off of a motorboat in the Illinois River beginning with the 2013 licensing year.”
However, some restrictions would apply. For starters, the bill says that individuals “mush have the appropriate license and use a specific type of ammunition.” Moreover, the Department of Natural Resources would be able to regulate and administer the pilot program.
So, if the bill were to pass (and pending further restrictions) all an Illinoisan would need to go out and blast these invaders with his/her favorite shotgun would be a valid fishing license, a valid gun permit, and ammo that fits the criteria listed here.
If you’re not familiar with the Asian carp dilemma, you may be asking yourself, why is it so important to stop these fish from completing their journey into the Great Lakes?
Basically it comes down to two reasons, (1) Asian carp are a nuisance and even a danger to fishermen and those who enjoy water-related activities, (2) they have the potential to decimate an entire ecosystem (see video for further info).
As a result of the existential threat these flying fish impose on freshwater ecosystems, there has been no shortage of government pilot programs and private plots hatched by citizens to stymie their advance.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in conjunction with other environmental-minded groups have been working on an electric fish barrier near Chicago that would ideally keep these fish at bay.
On the private front, there are carp-fighting groups that are dedicated to killing and/or catching these animals. You might call them “new-age” fishermen. Some use bows and arrows, others use less conventional means (see video below).
At the end of the day though, some question the efficacy of using shotguns to stop Asian carp. On Friday, a columnist for the Chicagoist wrote, “Shotguns, jumping fish, and boats speeding along on bumpy water. What could go wrong?”
While one may be reluctant to admit it (as carp-style skeet shooting sounds like a helluva fun time), the Chicagoist raises a fair point.
Although, to be fair to the Chicagoist, they still endorsed the activity despite its inherent risk stating, “anything to slow the fish is OK with us.”