TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — An Arkansas man accused of
illegally selling live Asian carp in Michigan has been charged with 12
felony counts, officials said Tuesday.
attorney general's office said David Shane Costner, 42, of Harrisburg,
Ark., sold two grass carp last month in Midland to undercover officers
from the state Department of Natural Resources. He had been driving around
the southern part of the state selling the carp from store parking lots
for use in ponds, where they eat nuisance plants, investigators said.
Grass carp are
among four species of Asian carp that infested U.S. waterways after being
imported decades ago to clear fish ponds and sewage treatment lagoons of
unwanted vegetation or grubs.
Asian varieties — bighead and silver carp — have migrated up the
Mississippi and Illinois rivers and are poised to invade the Great Lakes,
where scientists say they could out-compete native fish for food. The
federal government has spent more than $100 million on an electric barrier
and other steps to keep them out.
species in general and the Asian carp in particular pose one of the most
serious current threats to the economy and the ecology of the Great
Lakes," DNR Director Rodney Stokes said.
sale of live Asian carp is illegal in Michigan.
silver carp are a particularly serious threat because they eat plankton —
microscopic plants and animals that are essential components of aquatic
Grass carp eat
larger vegetation, which makes them attractive to people wanting to rid
ponds and lakes of weeds. But they have such voracious appetites that they
can strip a water body of all plant life, hurting native fish that depend
on the vegetation for habitat. They were declared illegal in Michigan in
the late 1970s.
whether Costner sold grass carp to anyone other than the two undercover
agents, DNR spokesman Ed Golder said.
looking into that," he said.
Costner had 112 grass carp, which he kept in tanks inside a semi-truck.
Officials said the words "grass carp" were imprinted on the side of the
vehicle, along with the names of several legal species Costner was
selling, including channel catfish, largemouth bass and fathead minnows.
charged with 10 counts of possessing an illegal species and two counts of
selling an illegal species. Each carries a maximum sentence of two years
in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $20,000. Costner is in Arkansas and will
be arraigned in Michigan later, said Joy Yearout, spokeswoman for Attorney
General Bill Schuette.
Calls to a
phone listing for Costner went unanswered.
Press left a message seeking comment with Farley's Arkansas Pondstockers,
which the attorney general's office said furnished the truck Costner was
border authorities in recent years have arrested several truckers hauling
live Asian carp into Windsor, Ontario, after crossing the Ambassador
Bridge at Detroit.
destructive Asian carp enter our waterways, the damage cannot be undone,"
Schuette said. "We must remain vigilant and use every tool available to
protect Michigan's tourism and sport-fishing industries from this