Acting swiftly on a tip, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) arrested an Arkansas man for selling live grass carp out of his truck, a type of invasive Asian carp.

David Shane Costner, the alleged carp seller, is awaiting an arraignment on various counts for knowingly possessing and selling a restricted species, according to Ed Golder, public information officer for the DNR.

Costner is pond stocking supplies salesman, which he sold from a mobile truck. He had a number of other non-restricted species for sale. When DNR officers intercepted him in Midland, Costner was in possession of at least 100 live Asian carp, Golder said.

The sale of these fish is illegal in Michigan whereas in neighboring states such as Ohio or Indiana, they are not illegal to sell, according to Golder. Since the fish eat weeds from the bottom of water systems, they are favorable for private ponds, but not in the wild where they disrupt the habitat for native fish.

Original press release issued by Michigan Department of Natural Resources on June 5, 2012:

Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Rodney Stokes today announced that the Attorney General’s Criminal Division has charged an Arkansas man with 12 felony counts of possessing and selling live Asian carp in violation of state law protecting against the spread of invasive species. The charges follow a joint investigation by the DNR’s Special Investigation Unit and Commercial Fish Enforcement Unit.

Costner's truck. Click to see detail of "grass carp" written on the side of the truck.

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

“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,” said Stokes. “The excellent work in this case by the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division is one more indication that we will continue to vigilantly protect the lakes from this menace.”

It is alleged David Shane Costner, 42, of Harrisburg, Ark., possessed 110 grass carp fish, a type of invasive Asian carp. The fish were allegedly transported and sold from tanks housed in a semi-truck furnished by parent company Farley’s Arkansas Pondstockers. Costner allegedly traveled around the state, conducting sales of the illegal carp from store parking lots. The trucks also contained live fish species permitted under state law, including channel catfish, largemouth bass and fathead minnows. On May 16, 2012, Costner allegedly sold two of the live grass carp to undercover DNR investigators in Midland, Mich.

Grass carp, which are herbivorous and could potentially remove all vegetation from a body of water at the expense of native species, have been illegal to possess in Michigan for decades. Stokes said the DNR has been aggressively monitoring traffic in restricted species since the threat of Asian carp entering the Great Lakes became apparent.

Schuette filed the following charges against Costner today in Midland’s 75th District Court:

  • 10 counts of possession of an illegal species, a felony punishable by two years in prison and a fine of $2,000-$20,000 for each violation; and
  • Two counts of selling an illegal species, a felony punishable by two years in prison and a fine of $2,000-$20,000 for each violation.

Arrangements are being made for Costner to surrender himself to the proper authorities. Arraignment will be scheduled in Midland’s 75th District Court at a later date.

Citizens who are aware of the trade or movement of any restricted species of fish in Michigan are asked to call the DNR’s 24-hour Report All Poaching (Rap) Hotline at 800-292-7800.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Photos: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

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