DNR dodges Mille Lacs gillnet, quota issues

Policy of official indifference prevails

Just took another look at two recent articles in Outdoor News by Rob Drieslein and Joe Fellegy. They shine a light on the annual behind-the-scenes negotiations between the DNR and Chippewa tribes over their Mille Lacs treaty harvest quotas.

Both articles do a good job of explaining the Mille Lacs treaty fishery management quagmire in plain English. They’re well worth a read.

According to DNR comments made to Outdoor News editor Drieslein, the DNR “cannot object to methods the bands use to kill walleyes” and, gillnets “are not a conservation issue.” Gillnets are not a conservation issue? The tribes could use dynamite along with their miles of monofilament gillnets and the DNR could do nothing?

As far as the DNR was concerned, it’s only a question of “whether the bands stay within their quota.”

Where did those “quotas” come from? They came from a negotiating process required by the Supreme Court in lieu of a specifically-defined Phase II allocation. Negotiating quotas—and representing all Minnesotans—is the DNR’s job. Drieslein has more to say here.

Joe Fellegy calls it like it is. “Nobody can deny that the miles of tribal ‘subsistence’ gill nets on Mille Lacs spawning reefs and shoals each spring, plus the related ‘treaty fisheries management,’ could win awards for the most bizarre, most culturally offensive, most costly, and most-challenging-for-managers fishing monstrosity on the face of Minnesota. Yet, amazingly, official indifference to legitimate citizen concern, anger, and frustration continues. (Where are the journalists and conservation activists, Fellegy wonders.)

Fellegy did some digging and makes some interesting walleye-net-survey-result comparisons. He shows how the DNR has painted itself into a corner with its treaty management efforts to date. Big picture: “there’s been no leadership, no outreach, no discernible politicking, or work to advance state and citizen interests.” That’s on top a continuing loss of accountability to all citizens of Minnesota. More on Fellegy’s DNR top brass appear uncaring in face of Mille Lacs madness.

Now might be a good time to contact the DNR—651-259-5022 or email Tom Landwehr—and point out how the Mille Lacs Fishery Input Group’s resolution is simply about the DNR doing its job, and being responsible for representing the interests of all Minnesotans.

(Douglas J. Meyenburg, President)

Large Fish Kill Discovered Near Leech Lake

Hundreds of dead Northerns and Walleyes were found in a rotting pile of fish, about 10 miles east of Leech Lake. A December 2 CBS/WCCO report noted that Tullibees, Muskies, five-pound Northerns, and thirty-inch Walleyes were seen in the pile. Perpetrators cleaned the Walleyes, and left the rest of the fish to rot.

It’s the kind of collection that can only come from gillnetting. It was described as “wanton waste.” In this case, that’s malicious, defiant and without justification whatsoever.

Story and video.

When it comes to ‘treaty rights,’ who will defend state interests?

Joe Fellegy raises key question …

“Given state government’s weak record on tribal-related affairs–an official reluctance to defend state and citizen interests–it’s probably naive to trust the offices of Attorney General, DNR Commissioner, and others, to move beyond complacency, silence, and apparent satisfaction with the status-quo (including the perennial Mille Lacs meat-grinder.)”

‘Treaty rights’ issues: will state officials defend state interests?
(Joe Fellegy, Outdoor News, June 10, 2011)

PERM agrees that the state laws that have been broken by various tribes should be prosecuted by the State DNR, and the Attorney General’s office to the fullest extent of the law. Our DNR and AG’s office know that these are state game laws that were broken.

During the 1837 Treaty lawsuit PERM paid to have alot of research done. This information was made available to our State agencies, but they turned it down. PERM hasn’t lost this information and we will again offer our assistance to the state.

PERM is a voice for the average citizen and believes strongly that it is the tribal governments that need to be upholding the language of the treaties.

I encourage you to read Joe Fellegy’s article, then forward this email and ask your friends in the sporting community who believe in equal hunting and fishing rights to support PERM anyway they can.

Thank you for your assistance. Doug Meyenburg, PERM Chairman

Douglas J. Meyenburg, President

Treaty rights claims proliferating

State facing high stakes legal quagmire

Dennis Anderson (Star Tribune sports writer) is on top of the issues in giving a heads up today (Treaties stir up the peace) on the latest treaty rights claims. He does not see tribal-state negotiations over these claims coming before being heard in a federal court. This, especially after the “convoluted ‘co-management’ ” and the “ever-increasing walleye quota” from the Mille Lacs fishery coming out of the last major treaty rights case in 1999.

PERM, and others who have extensively researched treaty rights, also believe that state and local governments should take this situation seriously. Doing so would help quash the growth of entitlements manufactured under the guise of treaty rights, ”tribal sovereignty,” reparations, political correctness, or kowtowing to well-funded special interest groups.

As Anderson notes, the state currently “lacks the corps of Indian treaty experts it employed a decade or more ago, a position of weakness—with the stakes so high—it can ill afford.”

PERM believes state and local governments should use all the expertise at their disposal. Specifically, the state and local governments should actively pursue application of the Indian Claims Commission Act (ICCA). This Act of Congress was carried out to settle every claim, legal and moral, by tribe or Indian, once and for all. All settlement was accomplished between 1948 and its completion in 1972.

That achievement may explain why tribal claims are now being directed at state and local governments, which may not be aware of their recourse to the ICCA.

Unfortunately, the state of Minnesota never used the ICCA when it was fighting the 1837 treaty harvest rights case in 1999. PERM’s representation of landowners in the case was effectively stymied by the state’s failure to apply the ICCA argument.

We hope that mistake is not made again. We hope the ICCA can be used as it was intended.

A little prevention by highlighting the ICCA now would go a long way to head off expensive lawsuits, maintain positive relationships with our friends and neighbors—and ensure equal protection of the law for all citizens sustainable access to Minnesota’s natural resources.

Douglas J. Meyenburg, President

Cedar Lake Fish-In — NO Citations

Friday, May 13 – The tribal “fish-in” involved about 15-20 Dakota Indians who apparently set nets in the middle of the night. They then pulled them out this morning for the benefit of DNR Officers watching from the opposite shore. DNR officers confiscated about two dozen fish and escorted tribal netters to their cars, but didn’t issue citations.

Information about the netters that was gathered in the largely peaceful process will be forwarded to the Hennepin County attorney’s office for consideration of charges. Organizers believe they have a right to net fish under an 1805 treaty and hope to be charged so they can bring a case to court.

PERM believes this is a game violation against the state and that the state should ticket and prosecute them as they would any other game violation.

Illegal ‘fish-ins’ to promote expanded ‘treaty harvest rights’ –FRIDAY MAY 13

Red Lake, Cedar Lake targeted
It was reported to us that Minnesota Chippewa will be illegally harvesting fish tomorrow in the state portion of Upper Red Lake listed as the Waskish area.

Dakota Sioux activists also plan to gillnet the same day in Cedar Lake, next to downtown Minneapolis.

Please stay away from these areas. If you must observe, observe only. It you take pictures, consider sending them to savemn@perm.org.

Since this is an illegal activity, ask your DNR officials to write tickets and confiscate boats, rods, nets, and anything else used in these illegal activities.