Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Budget issues delay hatchery repair

The CWD situation comes on the heels of a $1 billion state
budget deficit. The DNR is making cutbacks, and Wild Rose had
already been making plans to make do with less money before CWD
came along. The hatchery will lose one employee to retirement this
year and can’t replace him because of a hiring freeze.

“With these additional cuts, things are going to be kind of
tough here,” Larson said. “We’re not going to be able to raise
northern pike next year. Not only are we being cut back in our
funding, but we are not able to hire a person to raise all the
cool-water fish we want to. As a result of that, we’re going to be
producing less fish next year.”

In addition, employees are required to cut back on travel and
overtime.

The Wild Rose hatchery has received some financial help from
outside sources. For example, five Green Bay area muskie clubs have
contributed to the hatchery’s Great Lakes spotted muskie program
for the past decade.

“They have been donating about $10,000 to the hatchery every
year,” Larson said. “We have been using that money to buy forage
for our muskies. Without that donation, we wouldn’t have a spotted
muskie program. Since we had such a good year this year in muskie
production, we have gone back to those clubs and asked them to
donate more. This year, they gave us an additional $2,500.

Although CWD apparently has put the Wild Rose project on the
back burner, at least for now, Larson believes the project will
eventually see the light of day.

“My optimism was growing by leaps and bounds for a while until
the latest, but I’m still optimistic,” he said. “If the public
could see what we’ve done in the number of years we’ve been here, I
think it would back us up. I think we can get them behind us and I
think we can eventually get the funding.

“I just believe it’s going to take longer than anticipated,” he
said. “Instead of seeing earth turned in the fall of 2004, I would
have to say it’s going to be put off for a couple of more years,
but I believe it will happen. There isn’t much more we can do right
now. We have the plans, we have the consultants. Now, it’s just a
matter of finding the funding or keeping the funding sources open
and be ready to have the money available when the time comes. It is
definitely the No. 1 top priority.”

The project will require the approval of the state Natural
Resources Board, Department of Administration and Legislature. It
already has the support of DNR secretary Darrell Bazzell, according
to Larson.

“He recognizes that this is a top priority project, along with
our directors and fisheries personnel in Madison,” he said. “We
have the go-ahead and the OK from all the people in the DNR that we
need. Now it’s convincing the funding sources, the Legislature, the
governor’s office and those other outside departments to go along
with it also.”

Although Larson is looking forward to a renovated hatchery, he
realizes the state first has to attend to the business at hand.

“If you were to prioritize what would be more important,
protecting our deer herd or renovating the Wild Rose hatchery, I
think the common-sense answer is to take care of the deer herd and
come up with a plan to prevent the spread of CWD,” he said. “If you
look at the big picture, it’s obvious that we have to take care of
that problem.”

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