DNR's new Mille Lacs strategy aims to restore walleye – and trust

Author:
Updated:
Original:

The Department of Natural Resources is making changes on Mille Lacs Lake in hopes of rebuilding the sagging walleye population and improving its relationship with neighbors of the central Minnesota lake.

A new strategy the DNR announced Thursday includes a new fishery on Mille Lacs with staff devoted exclusively to that lake; a pilot program to stock the lake with walleye beginning next spring, if needed; and an advisory committee with input from local officials, businesses, and anglers.

Mille Lacs has historically been the most popular place for Minnesota anglers to catch the state fish. But with the lake's walleye numbers at their lowest level in decades, the DNR set its tightest-ever restrictions on Mille Lacs walleye.

When anglers reached the season's limit, the DNR shut down walleye fishing on the lake early this month – putting a dent in the revenue of resorts and other businesses in the area.

Walleye

The DNR says plenty of new walleye are hatching in Mille Lacs. The problem is that most of them don't live to adulthood.

Because natural spawning is abundant, the agency says a stocking program is not necessary right now. But it "...wants to be ready to go if and when such stocking becomes necessary."

Thursday's announcement describes next spring's stocking as a pilot effort. But according to the Pioneer Press, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr says it could involve 17 million to 20 million freshly hatched walleye fry, which the newspaper calls massive.

The walleye in Mille Lacs are genetically distinct from those in other lakes. The DNR says it will ask the 2016 Legislature for money to build a fish hatchery specifically for the lake.

It's also applying to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for permits to kill cormorants, a bird that preys on young walleye.

People

MPR News reports Landwehr acknowledged the DNR has lost credibility with people in the Mille Lacs area and he hopes the initiatives announced Thursday will help repair that.

The DNR says Landwehr will appoint the new advisory committee in September. Some of the community members will also sit in on the technical meetings where walleye quotas are set.

Plans call for the new fisheries office to include meeting rooms and educational displays to encourage visitors.

Landwehr tells MPR:

"By engaging more fully with people, providing information, having a facility right there in the community and also by including them in some of the technical discussions that are going on ... I'm hoping that will help rebuild those relationships."

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 12.16.13 PM

Rodgers pummels Packers front office in viral press conference

"The rules are the same for most people, but every now and then there are some outliers."

Pexels - mother child mask covid

MDH urging that all wear face masks, 12+ get vaccinated for upcoming school year

State health officials revealed their COVID-19 recommendations for 2021-22.

sunfish 1

Gallery: Aspen-inspired estate on private lake is yours for $4.95M

Each bedroom has its own bathroom. And there are four laundry rooms.

Flickr - Halloween costumes masks shops - Chuck Falzone

Struggling for staff, Mankato Halloween business will put out-of-town workers up in hotels

The business is trying to attract workers from as far away as Iowa and Wisconsin.

Flickr - Mall of America 2018 - Ken Lund

Family of child thrown from balcony in 2019 files lawsuit against Mall of America

The boy suffered serious injuries that have required ongoing care.

vaccine

Here are the vaccination rates of MN counties considered COVID hotspots

These 14 counties have what the CDC considers "substantial" or "high" COVID transmission.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, July 28

The newest data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

classroom mask

Rochester schools will require face masks for young learners

Students older than 12 are encouraged but not required to wear masks.

Trey Lance

NDSU to feature in FCS heavyweight matchup at US Bank Stadium

The last time the Bison came to Minneapolis they brought 35,000 fans.

Jack Eichel

Report: Wild 'backing out' of Jack Eichel trade talks

The Wild are concerned of the price and cost of a potential deal.

Jose Berrios

Latest Twins rumors: Berríos, Buxton, Maeda all landing in trade talks

The Twins are reportedly "extremely active as sellers" ahead of Friday's deadline.

Related