Sen. Baldwin tours invasive species research lab - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Sen. Baldwin tours invasive species research lab

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- The Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center is a federal research center and to maintain necessary funds, the center keeps politicians in tune with their research.

"Invasive species is something that makes the political agenda frequently as we worry about Asian Carp and certain mussels," said Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who toured the center on Friday. "And that's not an exhaustive list. And the research that's going on really helps inform policy makers to try and make sure our programs are effective."

"The senator, like other members of Congress, need information about what's going on, the current status in terms of resources, what are the priority issues and how are we addressing those through research," said Randy Hines, a Wildlife Biologist.

Asian Carp and Zebra Mussels are two of the most problematic invasive species in the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.

"They're feeding at the bottom of the food chain just like our native fish and fresh water mussels," Hines said. "So competition for food, loss of habitat and typically there could even be diseases brought in on these invasive species as well."

The harmful species get in to the ecosystem through human activities. The Asian Carp and Zebra Mussels steal resources from many native fish that people rely on for commercial and recreational fishing. So the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center is studying ways to control the invasive species population.

"We're asked to help develop surveillance and monitoring programs," Hines said. "We're also working on physical, chemical and biological control tools to use against Asian Carp and Zebra Mussels in the aquatic environment."

Hines says they'll never be able to eradicate the harmful species but the idea is to minimize their impact on the ecosystem.

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