November 27, 2014

DNR seeks public input on walleye initiative

Department of Natural Resources officials are asking for your comments and concerns in how the state is running its new walleye stocking program. It’s the Wisconsin Walleye initiative, and it’s gotten some serious backing in the last year as Governor Walker and the legislature approved a major increase in funding to improve stocking capabilities.

“Wisconsin means good walleye fishing and it’s only going to get better with the walleye initiative,” says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We look forward to public feedback on this important part of helping direct where those fish go.”

That money is going largely to help stock large fingerlings in lakes, which are more expensive than fry stocking.

DNR fisheries supervisor Steve Avelallemant says they like to get public input on projects like this from time to time. “We’re planning to raise quite a few more of these large fingerlings, and they’re fairly costly. So we want to allow the public and other interests groups adequate time to weigh in as to how we might go about prioritizing and deciding where to go with those fish.”

Avelallemant says the Initiative needs a few more years to take hold. “It does appear that if we want to hold the line right now and bring back natural reproduction, which supports most of the fisheries in the state, an interim thing that’s need is to stock more of these larger walleye fingerlings.”

The first boost of funds last year helped the DNR increase the stocking of large fingerlings four times over, and production is expected to go up this year and next. Avelallemant says the DNR wants to get input on this year’s Initiative plans. “It speaks largely to stocking, but it spells out the kinds of considerations that might be taken in making those kinds of decisions.”

Managers are proposing guidelines that would put lakes with public access on the top of the list for stocking, partitioned out in the level of stocking needs in those lakes. “The increased funding provided by the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative allows us to significantly increase stocking of the larger extended growth walleye but we think the demand will exceed the supply,” Avelallemant says. “We need to prioritize to make the most effective and efficient use of the fish able to be produced under the initiative.”

Raymond Neupert, WSAU