FWP to hold meetings to discuss the non-native status of walleye

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will host a meeting on Feb. 28 to discuss the non-native status of walleye in Montana. The meeting will be held at the Montana Association of Counties building, 2715 Skyway Drive in Helena at 6 p.m.

At the December meeting of the Fish and Wildlife Commission, FWP staff presented the Statewide Fisheries Management Program and Guide for release for public comment. Also at that meeting, walleye advocates presented a map from peer-reviewed literature that showed the native range for walleye included all of Montana east of the Continental Divide. FWP conferred with experts from around the country and did extensive literature research and, based on the best information available, determined walleye are not native to Montana.

FWP manages for both native and non-native sport fish species to provide ample angling opportunities. However, in some cases, the agency emphasizes native species management while still providing sport-fishing opportunities.

Some Montana native fish species receive special conservation status and are identified as Montana’s Species of Concern. These native fish are considered at risk due to declining population trends, threats to habitat or restricted distribution. Pallid sturgeon, Kootenai River white sturgeon, sauger, paddlefish and Yellowstone and westslope cutthroat trout fall into this category.

While non-native fish receive no special conservation status, they comprise the bulk of sport fishing opportunities in Montana. Some of the state’s iconic species in terms of angling, including rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout and walleye, are all non-native fish. FWP actively manages for these species to provide angling opportunity throughout the state.

At the Feb. 28 meeting, FWP will discuss the information regarding walleye status presented at the December commission meeting and present information FWP used to determine a status change is not needed.

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