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Perham council against stocking muskie in local lakes

The Perham City Council has joined forces with the local Chamber of Commerce and the Otter Tail Coalition of Lakeshore Associations (COLA) to oppose the stocking of muskies in the Otter Tail lakes chain.

By unanimous resolution, city council members approved drafting a letter to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to that effect, following a special council meeting on Wednesday.

During that meeting, council members heard from local resident and longtime fishing enthusiast Rod Osvold, who was asked by Councilman Jim Johnson to outline the reasons why local Chamber and COLA members were against stocking muskie in Perham-area lakes.

“I think it’s a really important issue,” said Johnson.

The timing was also crucial, as a town hall meeting with the DNR commissioner was set for the following evening in Fergus Falls.

The DNR is under a state mandate to more lakes with muskie by 2020, due to the increasing popularity of the species for sport fishing.

“They want to stock 6 to 8 more muskie lakes in Minnesota,” Osvold said.

The DNR recently announced plans to stock Otter Tail County lakes Loon, Lizzie and Franklin with the fish.

“That’s why I’m here tonight,” Osvold said, noting that he intended to take the Chamber’s letter as well as the council’s — if they approved it — with him to the meeting.

Osvold, who was asked three years ago to be part of a DNR task force that was looking into muskie stocking in the area, said that there were several reasons why the lakes in the Otter Tail chain were not a good fit for the fish.

At least one major reason is that Otter Tail “is a major walleye production lake.”

“Why would you want to upset that balance?” Osvold said, referring to the tendency of muskies, which can reach up to 60 inches or more in length, to dominate whatever lake system they populate.

Muskies are also known to eat waterfowl and their eggs, which is another deterrent, since Otter Tail “is a huge wood duck area.”

Muskie fishermen also tend to travel extensively from lake to lake in search of the fish, which increases the risk of invasive species.

In addition, this area is known primarily for family fishing, while muskie fishing is more specialized, which means that stocking area lakes with muskie could shift the focus of the local tourism industry.

“I think it’s important to our tourism industry to address this issue,” said Johnson, who made the motion in favor of drafting the letter.

“I’m not anti-muskie,” Osvold said later. He, along with other Chamber members, simply feels that muskie fishing “doesn’t feed our tourism base here.”

He also noted that the Otter Tail COLA is in the process of researching this issue in depth over the next couple of years, and that if the research doesn’t support their stance, the council always has the option of changing its position.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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