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Legislative panel supports bill to stop muskie stocking

A plan to stock muskies in an Otter Tail County lake could be put on hold if a bill passes the Minnesota State Legislature. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to stock muskies in one of three county lakes: Franklin Lake, Lake Liz...

A plan to stock muskies in an Otter Tail County lake could be put on hold if a bill passes the Minnesota State Legislature.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to stock muskies in one of three county lakes: Franklin Lake, Lake Lizzie or Loon Lake. Franklin and Lizzie are located in the Pelican Rapids area and Loon Lake is located near Vergas.

The DNR would also like to stock muskies at other lakes throughout the state.

On March 22, however, a State House subcommittee approved a ban on Minnesota’s expansion of muskellunge stocking. The bill, supported by the House Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee, would need approval by the full House and full Senate and receive the governor’s signature in order to become law.

The measure would not affect the 99 lakes already managed for muskies.

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In Otter Tail County, muskies were introduced in the 1960s and 1970s to Pelican Lake, West Battle Lake and Beers Lake at Maplewood State Park.            

In December, the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution requesting that the DNR 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 muskellunge stocking does not adversely affect the ecosystem.

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 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 Doug Huebsch of Perham.

However, 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.

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