DNR turns to public for comments on walleye initiative Submitted: 10/16/2013
Story By Adam Fox

RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held its second public comment meeting for a $13 million initiative to boost state walleye production, Wednesday night in Rhinelander.

The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative will spend $8.2 million for infrastructure improvements and $1.3 million each year for annual operating costs will be provided to expand production at DNR state fish hatcheries.

Production should increase from 60,000 to 120,000 large walleye fingerlings a year to well over 500,000 by 2016.

The goal of Wednesday's meeting was to hear opinions from residents, and also discuss options of where the fish will be stocked.

DNR Northern Fisheries Supervisor Steve Avelallemant says more than 80 percent of Wisconsin lakes have natural walleye production. Those lakes won't be targeted for stocking.

"We would not think about stocking where Mother Nature is already doing it because she beats us every time," Avelallemant said.

Over the decades, walleye populations have declined slightly. That's one of the reasons why the initiative was passed. But walleye popularity with anglers also played a factor.

"Walleye are the number one game fish both in terms of what anglers are seeking and in terms of fish that they harvest," Avelallemant said.

More than 35 percent of anglers go for walleye. According to the DNR 6.1 million days of fishing in Wisconsin are for walleye. That's 29 percent of all angling days.

But Avelallemant says overfishing is a lesser problem.

"It's a factor, but it's not really one of the driving ones," Avelallemant said.

The next steps with the initiative comes in January. The DNR will revise walleye stocking quotas statewide. They will also plan private and tribal walleye production.

The DNR will hold one more public comment meeting for the walleye initiative. It will be Wednesday, October 23 in Oconomowoc.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Oconomowoc High School Art Center, 641 East Forest St.

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MINOCQUA - By the time most of us finish breakfast, we already start planning what to eat for lunch.

For some kids all around the world, that next meal sometimes never comes.

The Food for Kidz Minocqua committee will lend a helping hand to change that Saturday morning.

Lakeland Union High School's common area will transform into a full-blown assembly line.

Food for Kidz volunteers will pour and pack ingredients into plastic bags.

The goal is 175,000 packed meals.

Food for Kidz needs more volunteers by tomorrow to meet that goal.

"If you haven't experienced this, come out and try it and you'll go away with just a great feeling," said Food for Kidz co-chair John Breiten.

Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to walk in to volunteer.

The food packages will be shipped off to anywhere from Honduras to Mozambique.

Some special meals will be set aside and sent to local communities in the Northwoods.

"It's just a great, fun community event. I think the kids especially take something away that they are giving beyond themselves," said Food for Kidz sponsor and Lakeland Union High School Spanish teacher Karen Roerich.

Walk-in volunteers are welcome to attend either packing shift tomorrow morning.

The first shift is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The second shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you can't make it out to Lakeland Union High School Saturday, donations are always welcome.

Call John Breiten at 715-686-7570 for more info.

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