The anti-muskie sentiment at the Minnesota Legislature

After more than a decade of covering the Minnesota Legislature, I’ve learned a few things. Among them is this: It’s pretty easy to get lawmakers to return calls early in the session when they’re trying to build support for their proposals. Then, when doing so no longer serves their purposes, they tend to go radio silent.
The most recent example has to do with muskie stocking.

Last week, on the heels of the Senate passing a bill that includes a four-year moratorium on stocking muskies in new waters, I called Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria. He’s been a vocal opponent of muskie stocking and he was the genesis for what the Senate ultimately passed. Those calls went unreturned. (It’s important to point out here that I like Ingebrigtsen and have a good relationship with him. I’ve known him a long time and respect the work he’s done on behalf of natural resources.)

But when it comes to stopping muskie stocking, his interests are better served by trying to let the issue fly under the radar for the remainder of the legislative session. On the other hand, it’s an important issue for the state’s fishermen to be aware of, so we’ll continue to write about it.

At this time, the House and Senate deal differently with muskie stocking. The House, in its Game and Fish Bill, prohibits the DNR from stocking muskies in any of the waters the agency had proposed this year (Big Marine Lake in Washington County; Fairmont Chain of Lakes in Martin County; Gull Chain of Lakes in Cass and Crow Wing Counties; Franklin Lake in Otter Tail County; Lizzie Lake in Otter Tail County; and Loon Lake in Otter Tail County).

It remains to be seen if the two bodies are absolutely intent on stopping muskie stocking. But this much is clear: Now is the time for folks to contact their legislators and let them know how they feel about muskie stocking.

I’ll be doing just that, and will let my state senator and representative know that I support the DNR’s approach to muskie stocking. I’ll tell them the agency has carefully considered new lakes where it makes sense to introduce muskies, and that all of the arguments against muskies – they eat all the walleyes and attack swimmers with abandon – are simply myths that the anti-muskie crowd has perpetuated for years.

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