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County board passes muskie resolution

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution requesting that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stop muskellunge stocking in any new Otter Tail County lake for a five-year period or until such time that sufficient s...

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution requesting that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stop muskellunge stocking in any new Otter Tail County lake for a five-year period or until such time that sufficient scientific evidence is presented that muskie stocking does not adversely affect the ecosystem.

The resolution passed unanimously on Dec. 15 by all five county commissioners.

“We also encourage the DNR to assemble a diverse group of Otter Tail County stakeholders with the purpose of examining the existing scientific evidence and, if needed, establish what additional research is necessary to affirm that muskellunge stocking will not damage the environment,” said County Board Chairman John Lindquist of Dalton.

The motion for the adoption of the resolution was introduced by Commissioner Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids and seconded by Commissioner Doug Huebsch of Perham.

Voting in favor of the resolution, in addition to Lindquist, Johnson and Huebsch, were commissioners Roger Froemming of Parkers Prairie and Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls.

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The DNR is considering one of three lakes in Otter Tail County for muskie stocking: Franklin Lake, Lake Lizzie or Loon Lake. Franklin and Lizzie are located in the Pelican Rapids area and Loon Lake is located near Vergas.

County commissioners noted that the aforementioned lakes have diverse fish communities with primary management directed at walleye and panfish. On the other hand, they maintain that muskie fishermen represent a small percent of the taxpaying residents who fish in Otter Tail County.

“We as the county board of commissioners are concerned that adding a new species into the ecosystem will have an adverse effect on the natural fishing community of the lakes in Otter Tail County,” said Commissioner Huebsch of Perham.

Commissioner Johnson of Pelican Rapids said that many residents of Otter Tail County have requested additional scientific evidence regarding the impact of the stocking that may include an Environmental Assessment Worksheet. He said county residents also want further opportunities to comment about the DNR’s decisions surrounding muskie stocking.

A decision from the DNR will likely take place in 2016.

Guides for muskie fishermen maintain that studies show muskies do not negatively affect other fish in a given lake. As an example, the guides say that muskies mostly prey on fish such as white suckers and tullibee.

A public meeting on the muskies issue was held the evening of Oct. 29 at the Otter Tail Power Community Rooms in Fergus Falls. In attendance was State Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr who traveled from St. Paul to Fergus Falls at the request of area legislators.

Those for and against additional stocking of muskies in Otter Tail County lakes expressed their opinions during the public discussion.

Related Topics: OTTER TAIL COUNTYFISHING
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