SI Vault
Edited by Robert H. Boyle
February 19, 1973
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February 19, 1973


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The introduction of a foreign animal into a new setting usually has disastrous results for native wildlife. The rabbit in Australia is a notorious example, as was the introduction of the carp into U.S. waters a century ago. Now fishery biologists are wrangling over a new alien that has been let loose in this country, the grass carp from Asia. In 1963 the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife research station in Stuttgart, Ark. began importing grass carp to study their supposed knack for eating aquatic weeds. On the quiet, the bureau also started handing out specimens to such an extent that a bureau biologist recently announced to a startled audience of scientists that the fish now occurs in 40 of the 50 states.

Uproar has ensued. Missouri has banned the fish outright, in part because laboratory tests show that young grass carp prefer juicy freshwater shrimp, a favorite food of desirable game fish, to pondweed. Texas has put the grass carp on the state's restricted list as a potentially dangerous animal. Only in Arkansas are biologists happy, enthusiastically-claiming that the grass carp is "an effective biological weed control when properly used."

Whatever the case, the Sport Fishing Institute in Washington has condemned the grass carp introduction as "an incredible and frightening example of federal 'Big Brotherism' in which a few relatively obscure employees of a minor federal agency undertook in virtual secrecy to make a major ecological decision, probably irreversible, that will affect all Americans directly or indirectly for many decades to come."

A bettor with a statistical bent has come up with the final standings in the Point Spread League for the NFL last season, and the top team is Miami. The Dolphins, 14-0 in regular season games, won 11 and lost three in the PSL. The Steelers were second with 10-3-1 and the Browns third with 10-4. Despite dismal records in regular play, Denver, San Diego, Chicago and New Orleans had winning records in the PSL, while Dallas finished far down with an appalling 5-8-1. Form held for hapless Houston: the Oilers finished dead last in both the NFL and PSL. Never favored in any game, they were at least two-touchdown underdogs half the time. Despite this help from the oddsmakers, the Oilers only beat the spread in three of 14 games.

The Perfect Place Award hereby goes to the ABA Players' Association, which last week held its midwinter gathering in the Claim Jumper Room of the TraveLodge Motel in Salt Lake City.

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