The Questions

May 2011. Per the WDNR:
“We have carefully discussed the possibility of stocking yellow perch into Lake Michigan and have concluded that
a. Aquatic invasive species, most notably quagga mussels, have completely changed the Lake Michigan ecosystem over the last decade. Sustainable yellow perch populations at the levels previously recorded may be difficult if not impossible to reach again.
b. stocking age 1 or older yellow perch would be extremely expensive, and unlikely to make a difference given the numbers that we could stock
c. stocking of hatchery-reared yellow perch could lead to stock domestication and loss of the native population's
d. Lake Michigan's yellow perch have historically shown the ability to reproduce and provide a substantial fishery on their own.
e. the U.S Committee of Advisors to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Indiana Wildlife Federation are on record opposing the stocking of yellow perch into Lake Michigan.
f. all our hatcheries are at capacity producing other higher priority fish for Wisconsin fisheries”

The following questions were sent in reply and have not yet been answered by anyone from the WDNR.
- Expense of stocking perch? No dollar amounts were given nor estimate of economic benefits from stocking, why? How does the cost of stocking perch compare to the cost of stocking 340 million walleyes in Vilas Co. vs. the economic improvement in a county with a population of 25,000 vs. a county of 1 million? If Chicago’s sport perch fishery is worth an estimated $80 million per year what would a restored Wisconsin one be worth?
- Hatcheries at capacity? Based on DNR stocking records, in 1987 hatcheries produced over 211 million fish, by 2009 only 14 million fish were stocked, a trend of only 17%. Has the DNR closed 80% of its hatcheries?
-What was the priority and cost in raising 1.1+ million perch stocked in the Rock River during the same years that Lake Michigan perch populations were at their lowest? What was the economic benefit to Jefferson Co.?
- Excess hatchery capacity exists at U.W. Water Institute, where from 19997-2003 a DNR mentioned broodstock project produced an estimated 16+ million Lake Michigan strain yellow perch eggs. The funds for that project were wasted because no perch were returned to Lake Michigan. What was the cost of that project? Excess hatchery capacity also exists with the growing Wisconsin aquafarming industry.
- For 15+ years the loss to the economy and recreation caused by the decline of 97% by Lake Michigan’s perch, as made the news and spawned many studies. What species of fish(s) has a higher stocking priority and why? What was the priority of Barron and Washburn Co. to received 5.2 million of a total 7.3 million walleyes stocked in 2009, what was the cost and economic benefit?
- Domestication. Why is domestication a concern only for Lake Michigan perch, but not Jefferson Co. perch or other priority species stocked or by the other 1.9 billion fish stocked by the DNR?
- Other State opposition. Other States have fisheries offering 3 to 10 times our States perch limit, so they may see no need to stock. In 1964 Michigan stocked Salmon in opposition to the wishes of the Federal Government, with Wisconsin soon following. In 2005 the USFWS stocked 1.2 million perch in Lake Superior, did the DNR oppose that stocking? Would the DNR oppose perch stocking if paid for under the Great Lakes Restoration program?

WDNR reasons (a) and (d) contradict each other. If invasive species have so changed Lake Michigan, the perch’s historic ability to substantially reproduce on their own, is now immaterial. If aquatic invasive species have so completely changed Lake Michigan then why does the WDNR and Legislature still favor, demand and subsidize commercial fishing at levels greater then pre-invasive years?
WDNR reason (c) seems to fly in the face of reality. The current forage problem has been caused by a non-native, hatchery reared, constantly stocked species’, i.e. the salmon, ability to not only survive on it’s own but to start naturally reproducing. The 100+ million hatchery reared walleyes stocked over decades into Green Bay does not appear to have reduced their 'ability to survive on its own'? Why was it o.k. to stock walleyes in the Milwaukee River/harbor 1990-2003, was it to receive extra funds?
From an University Professor - "Domestication implies that you are applying natural selection to get traits that you want - so it depends on the traits you are selecting for". So it appears to me, the so called danger of domestication comes only from the WDNR selecting for traits or selecting wrong traits? Is the DNR stating that they can be trusted with other all fish, but not with Lake Michigan strain of perch? What traits were they selecting for when they previously stocked perch?

Write to the DNR or your State Rep. asking any of the above questions and see if you get a reply.