A $1.88 million sea lamprey barrier and trap on Trail Creek near Michigan City, Ind., put into service in late March is intended to suppress the spread of this non-native nuisance species and restore the creek's original ecosystem.

The Trail Creek barrier/trap will be operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the sea lamprey spawning season, approximately early April until mid-June each year. The 2009 Project Partnership Agreement involving the Corps of Engineers, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Great Lakes Fishery Commission culminated in a dedication ceremony in April, a few weeks after the barrier/trap began operating.

The Trail Creek project is part of a regional sea lamprey control plan implemented by Great Lakes Fishery Commission which includes chemical treatment of the creek since the 1960s.

The barrier/trap provides a more eco-friendly method of controlling sea lamprey by reducing chemical treatments. A steel sheet pile barrier will prevent sea lamprey from reaching upstream spawning grounds; a trap will enable the capture of prespawn lamprey. The male lamprey are then removed from the system or sterilized and released to mate with females and produce infertile eggs. A jumping pool downstream will enable adult steelhead and salmon to move above the barrier during their upstream spawning migrations.

The parasitic sea lamprey has plagued the Great Lakes for nearly a century. Scientists say this eellike critter, if not controlled, could decimate the lake trout, salmon and whitefish populations, upsetting ecosystems and the food chain.

Page last updated Thu May 31st, 2012 at 11:03