Good Splake Letter

From Timothy Gardner to John Boland of the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife, posted with permission: Excerpt: Can you imagine a bunch of deer biologists sitting around saying, 'I bet if we got some deer together with some nice moose, we could grow some 500-pound bucks?' Of course not. It's absurd. When we have a problem with our deer herd, we address habitat and harvest issues. We don't just go out and create a new species, " he[Bob Mallard] said. Comment: Well said. I haven't seen this problem explained more accurately or more concisely anywhere else. Excerpt: Boland said there's good reason for a gamefish like splake -- beyond their sporting qualities. He said biologists have never documented reproduction outside a hatchery in Maine, and thus, they don't believe they will interbreed with wild or native fish like brook trout or landlocked salmon. Comment: Why isn't your position, "…they will not interbreed with wild or native fish like brook trout or landlocked salmon."? Something else the biologists didn't believe: legally introducing 315,000 non-native togue would affect Sebago Lake's fishery. Eradicate the alien togue from Sebago and restore its salmon, white fish and cusk. Excerpt: "The splake program provides fishing opportunities in places there might otherwise be none, and it does so without jeopardizing wild or native populations of fish," Boland said. Comment: How can it be said that the wild or native populations of fish in the Rapid, Magalloway, Kennebec, West Branch of the Penobscot and Munsungan and Millinocket lakes have not been jeopardized when they now have to compete with splake? Excerpt: According to Tim Obrey, the Department biologist who oversees the splake program, biologists in Maine have never documented splake spawning in the wild, nor do they "expect to see any wild splake in Maine in the future." Comment: Why isn't Tim Obrey's statement, "…will not see any wild splake in Maine in the future."? Excerpt: In 2000, Smith asked his 14,000 members if the Department should abandon its hatchery splake program and concentrate on brook trout, brown trout and landlocked salmon. Seventy-two percent voted to end the program, only 13 percent supported it. Comment: Which surveys support the splake program? Excerpt: According to biologist Dave Boucher, splake were not stocked in most of the aforementioned waters, rather, they migrated from their original point of stocking, using inlets, outlets and rivers as conduits. Comment: "Most of"? Why were they stocked in any of the aforementioned waters? Excerpt: To date, no other changes have been made to the stocking program, but Boucher said Department biologists rigorously monitor all splake waters -- and have yet to notice any detrimental effects to wild trout and salmon fishing, or integrity. Comment: How can it be said that detrimental effects have yet to be noticed? Splake are being caught in the Rapid, Magalloway, Kennebec, West Branch of the Penobscot and Munsungan and Millinocket lakes. The odds of catching wild fish have been decreased. Is this not a detrimental effect? Excerpt: But many license holders believe biologists do know better. They say splake provide excellent sport, particularly in southern and central Maine, where native and wild fisheries have been depleted. Comment: If it's about excellent sport, bass and pike are the way to go. As Harry Vanderweide says, "Anglers want to catch big fish, and lots of them." Excerpt: "Splake have enabled the Department to enhance coldwater angling in the state. Data collected during the splake study are conclusive. Splake outperform hatchery brook trout…" wrote Obrey in a recent report. Comment: Togue outperform salmon in Sebago Lake. How much money has been spent on togue for Sebago, since their legal introduction ceased, compared to the amount of money spent on salmon for Sebago? Sebago has an abundant supply of togue, some of them grow to a monstrous size, and they are self sustaining. How much money could be saved by just letting Sebago be? Excerpt: "The program is here to stay," declared Fisheries director Boland. Comment: Then there isn't anything we can do. Comments: Splake are a hardy fish. Would releasing one by bouncing it off a rock cause it to go belly up? If so, at least an eagle could get an easy meal. Eagles were endangered not too long ago. But it took too long and too much effort to save them. A new super eagle should have been created instead. Electro-fish the St.John River and eliminate the alien muskies.