On a split vote, Cass County commissioners Tuesday, Jan. 5, decided against taking any position on the controversial Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposal to stock muskies in Gull Lake.
Kevin Egan appeared before the board to ask the commissioners to pass a resolution asking the DNR to study the issue for two more years before making a decision. He said without support for a delay, the DNR is expected to make a decision this month or next month. Egan told the board the issue has strong proponents and opponents.
A survey the Gull Chain of Lakes Association sent to 1,600 property owners, both members and non-members. drew 468 responses – 70 percent of whom oppose muskie stocking of Gull, while 22 percent favor it and 8 percent are neutral, Egan said. He described Gull as a recreation lake rather than a fishing destination lake.
He also said he believes inviting fishing tournaments by stocking muskies will increase risk of bringing aquatic invasive species (AIS) to the lake. Lake property owners take on the financial responsibility when AIS does spread to a lake, he added. Gull already has zebra mussels.
There already are muskies in 30 Cass County lakes, Egan said.
The Association of Cass County Lakes notes in a letter to the DNR there are greater implications when stocking a chain of lakes versus a single lake. It also cites the fact there already are muskie tournaments on other Cass County lakes, which draw participants from throughout the country and have a potential for bringing AIS unless there is intensive screening of boats and equipment.
Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk, who has studied the Gull area controversy, suggested Cass commissioners could take one of three actions: Do nothing; refer the issue to Cass’ Natural Resource Committee for a recommendation; or approve a resolution calling for the DNR to delay its decision for two years.
Gaalswyk made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Bob Kangas, to refer the issue to Cass County Natural Resource Committee. The motion failed when Commissioners Scott Bruns, Dick Downham and Jeff Peterson voted against it.
This led to the board taking the no action option.