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Eric Sharp: Good, bad news on lampreys

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While lamprey numbers have been reduced by 90% in the other Great Lakes, they remain high in Lake Erie. Lampreys clamp onto fish, using a tongue like a file to bore into fish and live off their blood and body fluids.

Tests of chemical signals called pheromones prove they can trick sea lampreys to avoid streams that offer good spawning habitat and lure them to streams where baby lampreys won't survive.

"It's hard to see any good news when it comes to invasive species, but the sea lamprey is one case where we're winning the battle," Dr. Marc Gaden said this week during a briefing on new lamprey control efforts by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and other agencies.

That's the good news.

The not-so-good news, at least in the short run, is what the scientists learned when they tried a full-count press on the handful of rivers and creeks that were thought to produce most of the lampreys in Lake Erie.

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