The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners has joined a local groundswell of opposition to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plan to introduce muskies into one of three area lakes.
In a resolution passed Dec. 15, commissioners called on the DNR to produce more scientific evidence that muskie stocking won’t adversely affect walleye, bass, northern, sunfish and crappie fishing in the Otter Tail River chain of lakes. Otter Tail County has more lakes than any county in the United States and fishing is vital to the area’s tourism trade.
Said County Commissioner Doug Huebsch: “We’re not asking to stop the stocking of muskies, but instead, slow it down because the decision cannot be reversed.”
The resolution asks for a five-year hiatus before any new muskie introductions. The three area lakes under DNR review for muskellunge stocking are Franklin, Lizzie and Loon. Lakes in three other areas of the state are under similar review: Big Marine in the metro area, the Gull Lake chain near Brainerd and the Fairmont chain in southern Minnesota.
The DNR has been seeking public feedback on the plan for more than a year and fisheries managers expect to make their recommendations by Feb. 1. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr has final say.
Mike Johnson, a spokesman for the Lake Lizzie Lake Association, said similar resolutions against the muskie stocking plan have been adopted by many area lake associations, the city and chamber of commerce of Perham, and other groups.
“We continue this fight and will take it to our legislators if necessary,” Johnson said.
Jim Wolters, the DNR’s area fisheries supervisor in Fergus Falls, said the agency has laid out all the pertinent data that it has on muskie stocking. When the process started more than a year ago, the feedback from area residents was “neutral to slight opposition,” he said, but it has mounted into as the decision has neared and misinformation has spread.