By James Rowen Special to Published Jan 01, 2010 at 5:29 AM

It took a while, but Wisconsin -- through Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen -- has joined three other states in a legal effort to force Illinois to block Asian carp, a predatory invasive fish, from penetrating Lake Michigan.

The carp are voracious eaters, and often leap into boats, where their weight of 50 pounds or more can cause injury to swimmers, boaters and anglers.

An artificial shipping canal connecting Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River watershed is the most likely route into Lake Michigan for the carp. There is evidence that the fish are but a few miles away, having migrated from the deep south by swimming up the Mississippi River, infesting rivers and streams all along the way.

If the carp get into the Great Lakes, they will destroy a multi-billion dollar commercial fishing and recreational industry across a vast, eight-state/two-nation region.

But what happens if the US Supreme Court tosses the states' legal challenge?

Or if Illinois drags its feet, delaying or aggressively blocking not the carp, but the legal effort to force Illinois to behave like a better watershed steward?

My suggestion? Boycott the Illinois economy.

Consumers and vacationers have forced businesses and entire states elsewhere to take remedial actions when inertia or politics had carried the day.

And to be clear: I'm not playing out some silly sublimated Packers-Bears, or Cheeseheads/Flatlanders' kerfuffle.

This is serious business. The Great Lakes underpin the entire region's well-being.

If our neighboring state to the south can't or won't get serious about protecting the Great Lakes, then everyday folks have to get Illinois' attention issue with collective economic power.

James Rowen Special to
James Rowen is a Milwaukee writer and consultant who blogs at He worked as a reporter and assistant metro editor at The Milwaukee Journal and Journal Sentinel, and held several positions with Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, including Chief of Staff. Rowen is on the board of the Institute for One Wisconsin Now, and receives funding from The Brico Fund; neither organization has control over his writing and blogging.