Man charged with selling live Asian carp in Mich.

Published 12:10 pm Tuesday, June 5, 2012

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — An Arkansas man accused of illegally selling live Asian carp in Michigan has been charged with 12 felony counts, officials said Tuesday.

The Michigan 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 state selling the carp from store parking lots, investigators said.

Grass carp are among four species of Asian carp that infested U.S. waterways after being imported decades ago to clear algae from fish ponds and sewage treatment lagoons.

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Two other 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.

“Invasive 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.

Possession and sale of live Asian carp is illegal in Michigan.

The attorney general’s office said Costner had 110 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.

Costner is 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.