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Opponents seek to cut bait on DNR muskie program

The Department of Natural Resources is looking for public input on a proposal to stock muskie in eight new waters around the state by 2020, and it found some at a meeting of the House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee Tuesday.

Several testifiers spoke in favor of a bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Anderson (R-Lake Shore), HF3207, which would prohibit the DNR from introducing muskies to additional waters. Before any of that testimony could take place; however, the bill was amended to limit the prohibition to six specific lakes.

  • Big Marine Lake in Washington County;
  • Fairmont Chain of Lakes in Martin County;
  • Gull Chain of Lakes in Cass County; and
  • Franklin Lake, Lizzie Lake and Loon Lake in Otter Tail County.

Anderson said HF3207, which was approved as amended and sent to the House Floor, is needed to protect the lakes from potential damage the muskie could cause, especially to the walleye populations in those lakes.

Its companion, SF3059, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) and awaits action by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

“The walleye population is mismanaged on many lakes,” Anderson said. “And on these lakes the DNR wants to introduce another fish. Why? They have mismanaged the current fishing.”

Representatives of several homeowners associations around the lakes in question also offered support for the bill.

But Rep. Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia) objected to placing restrictions on what he said was the fastest growing type of sport fishing in the state, and the harm he said the bill could do to Minnesota businesses profiting from it.

“Essentially what we’re doing is putting up a roadblock and saying, ‘This area of the state is closed for business,’” Metsa said. “I just don’t see any legislative rationale for us getting involved in this decision.”

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