Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

Montana Trout Unlimited Doubles Reward for Illegal Fish Stocking

 


WHITEFISH - Montana Trout Unlimited and its Flathead Valley Chapter are doubling their previous reward offer for apprehension and conviction of the persons responsible for illegally planting walleyes in Swan Lake and Noxon Reservoir, as well as smallmouth bass in Seeley Lake.  The reward is now $20,000. This is in addition to reward money that might be available from elsewhere, including the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) offer of $1,000 through its TIPMONT program, and another estimated $4,000 offered by a collection of sportsmen’s groups.

“We’ve had it with the selfish individuals who have been vandalizing Montana’s lakes and streams by dumping harmful species on top of established and popular populations of sport fish,” says Chris Schustrom, chairman of Montana Trout Unlimited. “The recent discovery of walleye in Swan Lake, the latest in a string of more than 600 documented illegal stockings that have plagued Montana in recent years, clearly indicates that FWP’s current approach to stopping the vandals isn’t working. So we’re helping by upping the ante.”

 The presence of highly predatory walleyes in Swan Lake could threaten one of the region’s strongest refuges for threatened bull trout, as well as a popular kokanee salmon fishery. The growing population of illegally planted walleyes in Noxon Reservoir poses a serious threat to one of Montana’s best bass fisheries, which was legitimately established and managed by the state’s professional fishery managers, as well as millions of dollars of investment funded by Avista in restoring migratory populations of cutthroat trout and bull trout. The smallmouths in Seeley Lake threaten its rainbow trout fishery, and they will certainly move downstream into the Blackfoot River’s acclaimed trout fishery.

 “People wanting to help protect Montana’s great fishing can contact Montana Trout Unlimited. We’ll pass it on to FWP.  Or folks can directly contact the agency at TIP-MONT,” says Bruce Farling of Montana Trout Unlimited.  “Informants can remain anonymous if their identification isn’t critical to a prosecution. We are urging FWP to treat this illegal activity, which can ruin multi-million dollar recreational resources, as serious as wildlife crimes, and to step up its enforcement and investigative efforts.” 

If someone witnessed or has information regarding illegal stocking of fish in any Montana water, contact Montana Trout Unlimited at 406-543-0054, or, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at 800-TIP-MONT (800-847-6668).

 

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