Illegal fish stocking a threat to revived lake
DNR Conservation Warden Boyd Richter has cited one person for releasing fish in Lake Leota.
More people have done the same thing, said Kyle Allen of Save Our Lake Environment, an Evansville group that played a large role in getting the lake drained and dredged.
Allen said he’s heard from well-intentioned people who offered to help stock the lake and were not aware it’s illegal.
Allen has seen crappies, bluegills and bass in the lake, even though only minnows have been legally stocked there so far.
“I’m quite sure it's been going on. I think it was a popular activity for a while,” Allen said.
The person who was caught got a $1,133 ticket, Richter said.
The warden would not identify the offender, saying he or she is innocent until proved guilty.
The person, an Evansville resident, admitted to releasing five large bluegills caught in Lake Kegonsa in Lake Leota and thought he or she was doing the right thing.
The person cited was aware of the DNR’s rules against illegally stocking fish and the danger from VHS, or viral hemorrhagic septicemia, Richter said.
VHS kills fish but is not a danger to humans. It is not believed to be in Kegonsa or other Madison-area lakes, but other fish diseases have recently been found in those lakes, Richter said.
VHS has caused fish kills on the Great Lakes. It’s also known to be in Lake Winnebago.
“Even though we don’t know the VHS is there, it’s still a concern anytime we have people moving fish from one body of water to another, especially when they’re trying to reestablish a population there on a lake that they recently refilled,” Richter said.
Lake Leota was drained in 2005. It sat empty until last winter, when it was dredged. The Save Our Lake Environment group is working on a three-year fish-stocking program.
Allen said the group has stocked minnows twice already. Those minnows are spawning and will become food for the 20,000 bluegills, crappies and perch that will be stocked this fall.
The legally stocked fish all come from hatcheries.
Allen said he’s also seen carp in Lake Leota, but he believes they survived the dredging by swimming up Allen Creek, returning when the lake was refilled.