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Man charged with selling live Asian carp in Michigan

In an undated phoprovided by Michigan Attorney General confiscated Asian carp is shown. Michigan authorities have charged David Shane Costner

In an undated photo provided by the Michigan Attorney General, a confiscated Asian carp is shown. Michigan authorities have charged David Shane Costner of Harrisburg, Ark., with 12 counts of selling live Asian carp in violation of a state law meant to prevent the spread of invasive species. The state attorney general's office said Tuesday that Costner sold two grass carp to undercover investigators with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources last month in Midland. (AP Photo/Michigan Attorney General, HO)

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An Arkansas man has been accused of illegally selling live Asian carp in Michigan.

David Shane Costner, 42, of Harrisburg, Ark., is facing 12 felony charges that accuse him of selling two grass carp last month in Midland, Mich., to undercover officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Michigan attorney general’s office said Tuesday that 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.

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.

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,” Michigan DNR Director Rodney Stokes said.

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

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.

Calls to a phone listing for Costner went unanswered.

Canadian border authorities in recent years have arrested several truckers hauling live Asian carp into Windsor, Ontario, after crossing the Ambassador Bridge at Detroit.

“Once destructive Asian carp enter our waterways, the damage cannot be undone,” Schuette said. “We must remain vigilant and use every tool available to protect Michigan’s tourism and sport-fishing industries from this dangerous threat.”

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