Top court rejects states' appeal on Great Lakes carp

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by five states seeking an order requiring that a range of steps be taken to keep the invading Asian carp out of the Great Lakes where they are considered a threat to fisheries.

The high court refused to hear an appeal by Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin after the states lost their bid for a preliminary injunction that would have required additional efforts to stop the migration of the voracious carp into the lakes.

The carp have taken over stretches of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Chicago area waterway system already have adopted a number of measures to block the advance of the carp into Lake Michigan.

The states have argued that two species, the Bighead and Silver carp, pose a severe threat to the Great Lakes’ $7 billion fisheries. The carp can spread rapidly, crowding out other native fish species.

A federal judge and a U.S. appeals court in Chicago denied the request for a preliminary injunction that would have required additional physical barriers in the Chicago area waterways, new procedures to stop the carp and the speeding up of a study on how to devise a permanent solution to the problem.

In their appeal, the states said the Supreme Court “should grant review and reverse to abate an imminent threat to one of the most precious freshwater ecosystems in the world.”

The federal government opposed the appeal, said the case does not warrant further review and told the Supreme Court that the effort to prevent the spread of the carp was already being effectively managed by federal, state and local agencies.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said the states failed to show the need for preliminary injunctive relief and that the litigation should be allowed to proceed before a federal judge in Chicago.

In 2010, the Supreme Court on three separate occasions rejected an appeal by Michigan, refusing to get involved in the legal battle over the carp.

The U.S. Supreme Court case is Michigan v. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 11-541.

Editing by Will Dunham