July 23 12:53 PM

VHS, TB, CWD...just more bunk!

August 01, 2007
Over two decades ago, I wrote about the disastrous effect that ballast water from ocean going vessels will have on the Great Lakes environment and water quality. You see, I totally agreed with a Chicago native, Eddy Landmichael, who rallied around the Great Lakes distributing flyers and handouts to every sport fishing group, bait shops and anyone in the media. He also talked with legislatures and DNR officials about infectious diseases, viruses, exotic species and more that ships bring from abroad to the Great Lakes and dump into our waterways from their ballasts.

Eddy was before his time, but eventually the public saw the change for the worse when Zebra mussels, sea fleas and other exotic species invaded the pristine waters of the Great Lakes. The kicker was when an infectious disease dumped from a Russian ship near the city of Milwaukee, WI, water intake made over 40,000 people sick.

Eddy was right, period.

Now, today we have a new problem called VHS, a volatile virus that could wipe out fish populations.

However, I totally disagree with the DNR's position regarding walleye stocking programs. Are you aware that no walleye eggs were taken on the Muskegon or Tittabawassee rivers this spring? That walleye stocking ponds are empty, they have no fingerlings and the entire state of Michigan is in a holding pattern when it comes to raising walleyes? Can you believe Michigan has halted walleye stocking programs?

Wait one minute! I've seen the DNR make similar decisions in the past involving the Tittabawasee and Muskegon river systems. The end result was the fishing was ruined. Just ask walleye pro Mark Martin about how bad the fishing was on the Muskegon when stocking efforts were cut. Heck, he fished all over the state and had poor fishing in his own back yard on the Muskegon. It took sportsmen several years to jolt the DNR into resuming plants and the good fishing returned. Same thing happened on the Tittabawassee and it took years for the DNR to be pressured into resuming plants and the fishery quickly recovered. To make a long story short, if the DNR stops planting walleyes you can count on the fishery going tube city, in a hurry.

What about our qualified DNR and their decision making policies? Should we trust them?

My personal answer is absolutely not.

It has been my experience the DNR tries to justify any decision or policy they mandate but they mismanaged our valuable resources like no other state.

I base my argument on the elk folly, when DNR biologists over guessed the herd, over issued licenses and devastated the population. The Szechwan pheasant program cost us $8 million, it did not work and there is plenty of data to show that 'put and take' programs failed too; but the DNR built a million dollar pheasant rearing station, only to have it crumble to the ground after years of standing empty.

Need I say more?

Well, what about the TB and CWD diseases that the DNR claimed would wipe out the deer herd? Their solution was to sell more licenses, create new seasons, and shoot the hell out of 'em so disease would not spread. Heck, at one time they actually were scheduling helicopter flights with armed men to shoot deer from the air. Get the picture?

So, what is wrong with the press, why don't they expose the DNR? The last time I raised hell about night steelhead snaggers on Prairie Creek, the DNR would not work with me or a local sportsmen's action group. At one point, after I editorially battered Lansing, officers checked my hunting and fishing licenses 17 days in a month. When it comes to the DNR, the squeaky wheel does not get fixed; instead the solution is pressure.

Is it a surprise Michigan ranks high in the amount and diversity of natural resources, but below all other states in spending money to enhance or protect those resources? Now you know the real story.

As for VHS, it is this humble fisherman's opinion that the DNR is using the virus as another scapegoat in order to further cut spending. It is no secret that the Governor ordered another 20% cutback earlier this year.

Is that money going for research to identify how to contain or destroy the VHS virus? Heck, no.

Has VHS been found in our hatcheries or rearing ponds? No.

Do we have fry or fingerlings that are infected? No.

I've got friends in the DNR, men and women I trust, qualified biologists that know how to create fantastic fishing. But they do not rule, Lansing does. The end result is poor decision making, not based on biological fact and we sportsmen suffer. You and me!

Our deer herd has been mismanaged, our pheasants are gone, brown trout plants have been cut, salmon and steelhead plants have been slashed and now you can count on walleye fishing going downhill pronto. All this in the wake of increased license fees makes outdoorsmen plenty miffed.

Let's cut through the smoke, our state government is hurting big time and we pay the price, a heavy price for second rate hunting and fishing when Michigan should be the best.

What if I'm wrong and VHS destroys what good fishing we have?

Well, once again I lose and so do you. Either way, is this situation what folks call "a losing battle?"n

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