MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Chippewa Indians in northern Wisconsin say they’ll take a near-record number of walleye in their annual spring spearing harvest.
Six tribes said they would spear just over 59,000 fish as part of their long-standing treaty rights. And that would leave a lot fewer walleye for sport anglers once their season begins in May.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp says the Indians are acting within their treaty rights. But she said the increase in the spearing declarations is, “significant, unprecedented, and a challenge to long-standing partnerships.”
The DNR said the largest of the six tribes, the Lac du Flambeau, effectively ended a 1997 agreement to limit its harvests, in exchange for the ability to sell state recreational licenses.
The Lac du Flambeau will lose $84,000 from the state, plus revenue from license sales. Tribal officials have not commented on that.
The DNR said the bag limits for sport fishing would be cut to one per day on 197 lakes, two per day on 331 lakes, and 3 on seven lakes. The state’s normal daily limit is 5.
Most years, the tribes don’t take all the fish they declare – and the state ends up increasing the daily bag limits for sport anglers.
Last year, the Chippewa speared 32,000 walleye after declaring 54,000.