Msg 11 Posted: 08:20 AM 04/17/10 (CST)
Article from WCCO news. |
Piles Of Fish Carcasses Found Near Lake Mille Lacs Reporting
Bill Hudson (WCCO)
Hundreds of dead fish carcasses were found outside a local landowner's home, near Lake Mille Lacs.
Just a short drive east from the placid waters of Lake Mille Lacs, a controversial spring fishing season is being rekindled.
Staring down at piles and piles of rotting fish carcasses, area landowner Dennis Tenhoff shakes his head in disbelief.
"I'm sure it's the regular netters," Tenhoff said, suspecting those taking part in the annual fish harvest by Native Americans. On Tuesday, Tenhoff drove past his hay field just off State Highway 47 and found the disturbing sight.
Thirty feet from a sign warning against hunting and trespassing, Tenhoff discovered several large piles of decaying fish entrails. The piles are clearly blocking access to his field and are in plain sight of passing motorists.
"You would think they'd go somewhere and dump them in the woods where you couldn't see," he said. "But right here, where you drive by and see it right away?"
There are literally, hundreds and hundreds of carcasses of walleye, northern pike and suckers dumped onto his land. Most of the fish were filleted, however a few of the northern pike and suckers appear untouched.
Tenhoff contacted the Department of Natural Resources to report the dumping. State conservation officers visited the site Wednesday afternoon to begin their investigation for those responsible.
Conservation officers admit that finding the dumpers will be tough. However, due to the nearby native spearing and netting activity, there's good evidence of where to start.
"It pretty much narrows it down to tribal netting," said Lt. Rita Frenzel.
She is the DNR's district enforcement supervisor and among the officers who visited the scene. While it is possible the fish were dumped by non-native poachers, it is highly unlikely.
Lt. Frenzel said the investigation may come down to tribal wardens matching up the size of carcasses to compare with fish recorded by Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife biologists at the boat landings.
But the whole case is rekindling emotions among non-native anglers and area landowners. Back when tribal netting and spearing was first being challenged by the state, Lake Mille Lacs boat landings were alive with protesters. It took a 1999 Supreme Court ruling affirming Native American treaty rights to quiet the controversy.
Its feared revelations, such as this, will only rekindle the ill will and resentment.
Attempts to contact the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa's natural resources commissioner were unsuccessful. A tribal game warden would not comment on the alleged dumping.
But the DNR's Lt. Frenzel said, "It certainly does send the wrong message and it makes people unhappy."
Frenzel said her officers will turn the matter over to tribal wardens for possible prosecution. If those responsible can be held accountable, they would likely be charged with misdemeanor littering and wanton waste of resources, for disposing of whole fish.
But to area landowners, like Tenhoff, the annual fish harvest has been a bitter pill to accept and scenes like this will only reinforce his distaste.
"This isn't part of it," Tenoff said, looking down in disgust. "This shouldn't be part of it."