BY ROGER SABOTA
Special to the Star Journal
Each year in early April the Department of Natural Resources holds its annual spring fish and wildlife public hearings throughout the state. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress shares this meeting time. The Oneida County meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 10 at James Williams Middle School.
Every county in Wisconsin holds this meeting at the same time. Interested citizens are encouraged to attend.
This year there will be 88 advisory questions to deliberate during the meeting. These cover the topics of hunting, fishing and trapping in Wisconsin.
The first item on the agenda will be the election of delegates from Oneida County to the Conservation Congress. If you are a resident of the county in which you are attending the meeting and are at least 18 years of age, you may vote for the Wisconsin Conservation Congress delegates. You must provide proof of residency within the county. Each year there is one two-year term and one three-year term available on the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. Citizens attending the county congress meetings have the opportunity to vote on nominees.
The walleyes in many of the lakes in northern Wisconsin seem to be on the decline. This is a concern for many anglers including this writer. We have seen a moratorium on walleye fishing in the Minocqua Chain of Lakes since 2015 that will continue for three more years.
After doing considerable reading I have found information on the declining population of walleyes on Lac Vieux Desert. Last spring biologists from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, using the process of electro-shocking, estimated the walleye population in Lac Vieux Desert. The fish were shocked, fin clipped and released.
The finding after a follow-up electro-shocking process was that in 2016 there were just over 2,000 fish. In 1990 it had been estimated that the population of walleyes was 13,000.
Numerous agencies are involved in a joint effort to address how to deal with this declining population. These agencies are the Wisconsin DNR, the Minnesota DNR, the Lac Vieux Desert Band, Sokaogen (Mole Lake) Chippewa and the Great lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. If restrictions on the number and size of walleyes that can be taken from Lac Vieux Desert are placed on anglers the tribes would agree not to spear or net walleyes during that time.
On another small northern Wisconsin lake the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point is planning a study to start this year to attempt to determine the impact of pan fish as predators on walleyes. The pan fish will be transferred to another lake giving the opportunity to hopefully determine whether pan fish prey on young walleyes.
There is not a definite explanation for the decline of walleyes in recent years but there has been a discussion about the change from a walleye dominated to a bass dominated lake. Bass prefer warmer water while walleye prefer cooler water.
According to the Minnesota DNR, Lake Millie Lacs will again have a strict catch-and-release policy because of declining walleye populations. So Wisconsin isn’t the only state having problems.
The Wisconsin DNR has set up an online feedback survey that interested citizens can participate in. You can log on, select the deer management area of your choice, answer the survey questions and react to the preliminary recommendations for the 2017 season that the Oneida County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) set up. The web site is: dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/cdac.html. The public feedback period is from April 3– 13, 2017. Following the public input period the responses will be made available to the CDAC committee for each county.
The next Oneida County CDAC meeting will be held April 18 at 6 p.m. at James Williams Middle School. Interested citizens are also encouraged to attend that meeting.
It must be spring. The geese are back. We can hear them early in the morning out on the lake and as we travel along numerous roads in the area we have seen a few geese and some ducks on the remaining ice as well as swimming in any small amount of water they can find which is usually close to shore. We watched one day this week as several geese came “sliding” onto the ice as they landed near several others.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.