Why Are Asian Carp Being Established in North American Waters?

An invasive species that is becoming a problem in North American waters is the Asian carp. An invasive species is one that originates elsewhere and invades a new geographical location. When it enters the new location, there are no natural predators. Thus, the invasive species competes with local species for food and the invasive species may eat the locals “out of house and home.” Invasive species have the potential to destroy an ecosystem if a solution is not found.

When it comes to the Asian carp, which were originally brought over from Asia to clean water treatment ponds, and which then escaped those ponds during periods of flooding, there are no natural predators. There are no North American fish species large enough to eat adult Asian carp. The only predators noticed so far are eagles and white pelicans, which may eat smaller carp. Largemouth bass may eat juvenile carp. However, the carp are prolific and can rapidly outstretch the abilities of predators to eat them.

Other factors that may determine and limit the growth of the Asian carp population is the availability of food, the conditions necessary for spawning, and how easy it is for the young to survive. While it is known the Asian carp are filter feeders and eat algae, and thus may not be able to survive in colder lakes, still no one knows for sure how prolific they will be in lakes.

They have successfully established themselves in Midwest rivers, and have been noticed in Lake Michigan. If consistently young and older fish are caught in Lake Michigan, then it indicates that the carp are successfully multiplying. While the carp have invaded the Mississippi waterways, and have travelled from connecting river to river, they have only recently been found in Lake Michigan.

This is of great concern as the carp can damage the ecosystem there which contains many endangered species. It can also damage the recreational sports there, as boat motors startle the fish causing them to leap. The fish grow so large, that when they leap, they may jump into boats and injure boats or people.

One way of determining how many of these fish have invaded Lake Michigan involves electrofishing, where fish are temporarily stunned and brought to the surface to determine and count fish populations. Another means is DNA sampling. DNA can be released in the form of urine or feces from the carp, and if collected soon enough after release, can be used to determine the presence of these fish.

Asian carp are definitely a problem that has invaded more and more waterways. It is something fishermen, Fish and Game Departments, and lake management companies will have to deal with in the days to come.

North American Birding Trails

Since their inception in 1996, birding trails now wind throughout the United States. Much of the major migration flyways in the U.S. are covered. Texas was the first of now almost 40 states to create birding trails. The trails were the inspiration of Ted Eubanks and Madge Lindsay. Their inspiration resulted in the first trail, the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. The list continues to grow as birders and other nature lovers discover this great way to enjoy our wildlife resources.

The trails are created using existing highways, byways and county roads to link prime public and private birding areas. Distinctive signs mark the way and detailed maps are available for each of the trails (some are free and some have a small charge). Both can be a big help to birders unfamiliar with an area.

Expert birders and beginners alike are drawn to the trails. A boost to local economies and a boon to birds – birding trails are a win-win situation for all involved. Not only do birders spend money while traveling along birding trails, the trails also help communities become aware of the treasures they may have in their own back yard – and the need to protect those treasures.

The National Audubon Society and the American Birding Association both have extensive lists of birding trails on their web sites. Plan a birding road-trip to somewhere you haven’t been in a while or explore someplace totally new to you. Discover and enjoy what our wildlife resources have to offer.

Taking A Look At The New North American National Parks

If nature is going to be preserved, new national parks are going to be needed throughout the world. The good news is that these parks are being created on a yearly basis. They are designed for a number of reasons, ranging from the protection of ecosystems to the remembrance of historical accomplishments.

The newest of these national parks are found on extreme northern Labrador. Created in January 2005, the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve is the baby of the Canadian National Parks system. This park is a gift of Inuit land consisting of two distinct landscapes: the gentle Georgian Plateau formed by receding glaciers, and the spectacular Torngat Mountains.

The mountains are amongst the most rugged in North America. Along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, a hiker would find an untamed coastline where cliffs seem to erupt 900 meters out of the sea, and fjords jutting up to 80 miles inland. Massive icebergs can sometimes be seen ferrying along the coast.

This 3100 square kilometer park does whatever it takes to make an explorer seem small while expressing the grandeur of nature at its most beautiful and dangerous.

If you are looking for a place to witness firsthand many ecosystems living together, the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado are an excellent example of a national park that has a bit of everything. While the dunes were designated a national monument in 1932, they were not officially labeled a national park until September, 2004.

This was done so that the surrounding areas could be protected. The dunes are tall and move at a very rapid rate. In fact, one dune has recently taken over a forest. Little green tips of tress can be seen coming out of the dunes.

Medano Creek is also a very appealing attraction to tourists, especially when the weather is hot. A refreshing swim in the stream is a relaxation not to be missed after a long hike. If you want to see one of the most beautiful national parks in the country, visit the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado.

The Canadian national park that has the distinction of being one of the most remote is the Ukkusiksalik National Park found in northern Nunavut. It can only be reached by plane making it also one of the most untouched national parks.

Previously inhabited by Inuits until the 1960’s, this twenty thousand plus square kilometer swath of land became an official national park in 2003.

For those ambitious adventurers willing to travel to this park, you’ll be rewarded with such features as reversing falls, 8 meter high tides, a 24 foot waterfall that freezes in the winter, and archaeological sites of previous Inuit inhabitants.

Also, nature abounds in this northern habitat with polar bears, seals, caribou, and over 100 different species of birds.

These are only a few of the new national parks that you can witness firsthand. Areas still untouched by man are difficult to find and disappearing quickly. If you would like to learn more about Canadian national parks and be a part of history in the making, visit http://www.pc.gc.ca. For American parks, stop by http://www.nps.gov to find more information.