By Dick Sternberg
(on behalf of Mille Lacs Lake landowners)
Agency misrepresents its own data at Natural Resources Committee Hearing
In the recent hearing on Mille Lacs Lake management, I presented my report, “The Mille Lacs Lake Fish Management Plan: Threat to Minnesota’s Premier Walleye Fishery,” to a joint session of the House Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committees. DNR representatives took issue with the walleye harvest level proposed in the report, but disputed practically nothing else because the report was compiled using their data. But in defending their present management policies, the DNR used questionable tactics to cover up the facts, create false impressions and protect their own image. Here are a few of the more blatant examples:
1) False Statistics. In his testimony to the Committee, Mr. Wingate stated, “There are as many pounds of walleyes in Mille Lacs that are under 14 inches as there are pounds of walleyes greater than 17 inches.” In making this contention, he is attempting to show that there really aren’t as many large walleyes in the lake as I’m saying, and that they are not the reason for the baitfish shortage. But this graph, made from treaty management biologist Rick Brusewitz’s report, “Evaluation of Mille Lacs Walleye Fishery for 2002,” shows otherwise. At the beginning of the post-treaty period, the poundage of walleyes under 14 inches was almost as great as those over 17, but since then the poundage of 17-inch-plus walleyes has far exceeded the under-14-inch class.