Lake Michigan managers recommend cut in Chinook salmon

Chinook Salmon swim in Strawberry Creek, October 12, 2015 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

MADISON (WLUK) -- There's a possibility of fewer Chinook Salmon stocked into Lake Michigan. Right now it's just a proposal, and the Department of Natural Resources wants the public's help..

The D.N.R. plan would cut the amount of Chinook Salmon stocked into Lake Michigan by 62 percent. Fish managers say there are too many salmon, and not enough food.

"What the predator to prey ratio is telling us, is that the alewive population is as a historic low in Lake Michigan," said Todd Kalish, DNR Fisheries Bureau Deputy Director.

The salmon were introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1960s to control the alewives, an invasive species. Now, the salmon have cleaned up on the little silver fish.

"If the agencies don't reduce stocking, we take no action, but there actually was a predation-prey imbalance. as the data indicates right now, there would be an increase risk of collapsing, not only the Chinook Salmon fishery, but the other trout and salmon fisheries as well," said Brad Eggold, D.N.R. Lake Michigan Fisheries Supervisor.

Wisconsin stocking efforts would go from 810,000, to 355,000. Michigan would cut its effort from 560,000, to 200,000. Illinois would go from 230,000 to 90,000, and Indiana would reduce its stocking from 200,000 to 45,000.

Agencies around the Great Lakes are asking the public for help. Meetings are scheduled at three locations later this month.

"We really want to encourage stakeholders to come up, bring their creativity, bring their ideas, bring their suggestions, so we can have a very efficient and effective discussion on ideas and suggestions fo rmanagement strategies in Lake Michigan in the future," said Kalish.

The D.N.R. plans to review the proposal each year to keep up with any changes in stocking needs.

The first meeting will be held the evening of June 27th in Cleveland in Manitowoc County. The second will be two evenings later at the Brown County Central Libarary in Green Bay.

Kalish says they intend to finalize plans by Oct. 1.

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