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Indiana man pleads guilty to importing 2,600 pounds of live catfish into Illinois without a permit | Main stories

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – An Indiana man has pleaded guilty to importing more than 2,600 pounds of live channel catfish into Illinois without a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Importing fish or other animals without a permit can endanger the state’s native wildlife populations.

In October, Michael Sullivan of Griffith, Indiana, pleaded guilty to one count of importing live fish without a permit. The case was filed in Will County, Illinois, following an investigation by the Illinois State Police Invasive Species Protection Unit. The case was prosecuted by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Will State’s Attorney.

Investigators said Sullivan imported fish into Plainfield Lake three times in 2021. Fish were purchased in Mississippi and Alabama.

IDNR staff review and issue free permits to importers to import tested disease-free fish.

Channel fish are one species susceptible to viral hemorrhagic septicemia, which can devastate fish populations.

“Although VHS has been found in the Great Lakes, we have not currently detected this disease outside of Lake Michigan in Illinois,” said Kevin Irons, IDNR assistant fisheries manager.

Conservation Police Officer Brandon Fehrenbacher said: “The importation and stocking of untested fish greatly increases the risk to our resources and undermines other law-abiding industries. These types of conservation offenses can be complex and time consuming in an already overburdened court system. IDNR is grateful to the Illinois Attorney General’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes and the Will County District Attorney’s Office for devoting the time and resources necessary to prosecute this case.”

Sullivan received 2 years of probation and had to pay $227 in fines and court fees

He was ordered to perform 30 hours of community service and pay $10,500 in restitution to the IDNR Police Operations Assistance Fund.

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