Who is protecting the Mississippi River from invasive species?

Scientist Jim Lamer holds an invasive silver carp on the Illinois River.

Federal and state agencies spend millions of dollars every year to keep destructive invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. Meanwhile, at least 25 destructive species — like water fleas and bloody red shrimp — are inching closer to the Mississippi River Basin.

Invasive silver carp have invaded nearly every part of the Mississippi River already, devouring plankton and leaving native fish like walleye, perch and whitefish to go hungry.

That’s what brings scientist Jim Lamer and his crew out on an electrofishing boat on the Illinois River on a warm summer day. There are more silver carp here than just about anywhere in the world. Lamer runs the Illinois River Biological Station in Havana, Ill., which is about 200 miles south of Chicago, just north of where the river meets the Mississippi near St. Louis.

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