We need your help. An illegally introduced population of walleye is thriving in Noxon Reservoir. Montana FWP has made it clear that illegal introductions will not be tolerated in Montana waters and they have long opposed the introduction of walleye west of the continental divide. The agency is in the process of evaluating removal of walleye from Noxon Reservoir. They are asking for your comments and have extended the comment deadline until April 19th. Please get your comments in and support a hard line on illegal introductions. These walleye not only threaten existing popular fisheries in the reservoir, they will provide a source for additional illegal introductions west of the divide and threaten populations of trout, salmon and steelhead throughout the Columbia Basin. You can find more information in the press release from Montana Trout Unlimited below, and you can read the proposal at the FWP website.
Send your comments TODAY to Ken Breidinger at FWP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Press release from Montana Trout Unlimited
Montana Trout Unlimited supports FWP proposal to reduce the population of illegally stocked walleyes at Noxon Reservoir
Missoula, MT, April 2, 2013 – In detailed comments submitted to FWP last week, Montana Trout Unlimited strongly supported the agency’s proposal to reduce the expanding population of walleyes at Noxon Reservoir on the lower Clark Fork River.
“This isn’t an issue of walleyes versus trout, which some people will claim,” says Bruce Farling, Montana TU’s executive director. “It’s actually a matter of not rewarding illegal activity, allowing professionals at FWP manage fisheries instead of bucket biologists, and conserving the robust sport fishery for bass that already exists in Noxon Reservoir. “
In its letter, Montana TU cites several reasons for supporting removal of walleyes using gillnets and other methods, including:
The presence of walleyes results from an illegal stocking. Managing them as a legitimate fishery at Noxon would incentivize walleye enthusiasts to repeat the behavior elsewhere.
Experience at waters elsewhere indicates an expanding population of walleyes will eat through the reservoir’s forage base and eventually reduce numbers of important sportfish, such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, which currently support thousands of angler-days as well as popular tournaments.
Predation posed by walleyes will threaten the multi-million dollar investment Idaho and Montana’s fish and wildlife departments, as well as local utilities are making in restoring migratory populations of cutthroat trout and bull trout in the lower Clark Fork region.
Walleyes are already drifting from Noxon into the very lower Clark Fork and Lake Pend Oreille, threatening existing populations of important species such as kokanee salmon, large rainbow trout and bull trout.
“Not only does the presence of walleyes threaten existing fisheries,” Farling says, “but in the end experience at other reservoirs in and outside Montana indicate that if their numbers are left to expand the result will be lousy fishing for the current species people target and a bunch of stunted walleyes. No interest will be ahead in the end. Some folks don’t understand that there is only so much room and so much food in that reservoir, and not everything can be accommodated. Walleyes really tip the scale.”
Montana FWP is accepting comments until April 19 on the EA it developed for potentially suppressing walleyes at Noxon Reservoir.
Montana Trout Unlimited, which is 50-years-old this year, represents 3,500 conservation-minded anglers statewide, with about half living west of the Continental Divide. For more information contact Bruce Farling at email@example.com or at 406-543-0054.