Pelican Lake property owner David Majkrzak, a retired mechanical engineer who lives in West Fargo, N.D., has been one of the loudest anti-muskie voices around Fergus Falls.
On Tuesday, one day after the DNR dropped plans to introduce muskellunge in one of three Otter Tail County lakes, Majkrzak still was on the offensive. He responded to questions from the Star Tribune:
Q Do you have any sense of relief or satisfaction that lakes in your area are no longer under consideration for new muskie stocking?
A It’s good that Otter Tail County had a chance to be heard. It’s good, but it’s temporary. The DNR is simply saying it’s a moratorium for the time being.
Q What was your best argument in defeating the proposal to introduce muskies in one of three area lakes?
A Muskie anglers are a small minority and they already have the choice to fish on lakes that comprise 30 to 35 percent of the surface water in the state. But they want more and more and more. Another strong argument for us was, “Why should we introduce a non-native fish?”
Q The DNR said there is no biological reason for withdrawing Otter Tail County lakes from consideration for muskie stocking. Explain the political opposition that the DNR cited in its decision to step back from the Fergus Falls area.
A It’s a grass roots effort. When a county commissioner comes out of church and 10 people jump him about muskies. That has an impact. We pushed back and told the DNR it didn’t have solid scientific information to back up its claim that muskies would be environmentally benign in these lakes.
Q What stoked your campaign to stop the DNR?
A It’s about what we are seeing on Pelican Lake [where the DNR has been stocking muskies and walleyes]. It’s hard to catch a 10- or 12-inch walleye anymore, and you can hardly catch a crappie in the summer. Fishermen attribute those changes to the muskie expansion [even while the DNR continues to measure Pelican’s muskie population as one of low density].
Q What do you think of muskie advocates?
A I give the muskie guys credit. A minority of guys has pushed their sport as if the state can’t get along without it. They’ve done a great job promoting their sport.
Q Were they any key momentum swings in your favor as the DNR considered your area for muskie stocking?
A We’ve got state legislators who cared and got involved. They received widespread support in the Senate and House for a bill that called for a moratorium on stocking muskies in new waters.