Walleye and old wounds (5×8 – 1/29/13)


It’s impossible to separate walleye in Mille Lacs Lake from the long-simmering controversy on Ojibwe treaty rights.

State and tribal officials have agreed to slash the walleye quotas on the state’s largest lake. Sport anglers will be allocated 178,750 pounds while Ojibwe bands with treaty rights will get 72,250 pounds.

It’s worth pointing out that nobody has said the problem is people have taken too many fish out of the water. In fact, it specifically notes that both sport anglers and the tribal fisherpeople have taken less than their quota. It may well be, the officials said, that the larger fish have taken to eating the fry in greater numbers.

“That’s good news; if you’re a tribe member. Not such good news if you’re a business owner in the area,” said one commenter on the Pioneer Press site, reflecting the unwillingness to read the facts in the story before confirming a previously-held belief. “The casino will still flourish, and the band will have that many more fish to sell to the Red Lake tribe.”

The Star Tribune suggests the situation may have more to do with the restrictions on the size of walleye that could be taken from the lake. And it may have allowed the bass and pike population to become too large. The state is trying to manage nature and nature is proving more of a challenge.

“Complex?” a Strib commenter says. “They have been netting spawning fish for years. It isn’t rocket science. Change the netting season.”

But the Mille Lacs Messenger says one of the problems may be that the fish are biting in the winter more than they have been.

It’s not just the numbers that cast a pall over the prospects for the upcoming open water season. The winter bite has been pretty good, Jones said, which is often an indication of how the fishing will be in the summer.

If the bite is good, anglers may find that much of the “harvest” is actually hooking mortality.

If anglers catch and release a lot of fish, and 5 to 10 percent are estimated to die by hooking mortality, it could turn out that anglers keep far fewer than the allotted 178,000 pounds.

Jones said they are hoping to minimize that possibility.

The reasons for the good bite are unclear. It appears that tullibee numbers are down, but the data give mixed signals on the abundance of perch — growing walleyes’ favorite food.

All of this, of course, has opened a deep wound: The 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said previous treaties gave Native Americans the right to spear-fish and gill-net the lake. No matter the science involved, the discussion always seems to come back to that wound.


We have documented in these pages of late the tendency of public radio to allow humor to seep into various elements of our lives. Apparently, not everyone has gotten the religion yet.

For Carolyn Bucior, a Huffington Post blogger, has created the dastardly NPR game.

I sometimes wonder why we don’t listen to something more uplifting, say a reading of Sophie’s Choice.

When I cleaned out my car recently, I found a notebook with phrases dating back to 2011, when we started our NPR game.

“This time, though, someone showed up with a gun.” (June 22, 2011)

“Ideas about democracy never fully took hold.” (Aug. 21, 2011)

“And he threw it down the staircase.” (Sept. 31, 2011)

“Assault rifles which had their serial numbers removed to make them more difficult to locate.” (Oct. 25, 2011)

“Have you totally given up on that dream?” (Dec. 23, 2011)

“Homemade humus, apples and pretzels…”

Homemade humus, apples and pretzels? Hey, how did that get on the air?

So National Public Radio affiliates, I’m asking you — in this era of endless reports on ways people are hurting the planet and each other — to occasionally broadcast some temporary relief. Perhaps you could sneak in homemade humus, apples and pretzels.

If only there were a place in the Public Radio universe — say, oh I don’t know, a blog, for example — that regularly featured something more inspiring by the people who walk among us.

And if only people in the audience stepped forward to make sure those stories got told.


“How as a nine-year-old colored boy, wearing glasses, how was he going to become an astronaut?” Carl McNair recalls, looking back on the life of his brother, Ronald. His brother was one of the astronauts killed when the space shuttle Challenger exploded 27 years ago this week and Story Corps has just released Carl’s story.

The story is the underpinning of one of life’s great scientific mysteries. What is it — exactly — that leads some to rise above everything that’s against them and excel, when most others are carried by the current?

More space: The space station captures beautiful images of disaster. The flooding in Australia.


This ESPN feature on a former Minnesota Viking running back leads to an often-unasked question: Can you legitimately be concerned about what football is doing to the brains of its players while still regularly watching NFL football?


Super Bowl? Bah! Lake City and Lake Pepin were selected as the site of the World Ice Boating Championships. Competitors only had a few days’ notice. But, the Rochester Post Bulletin reported, people came as far away as Germany to participate.

Somebody offer me a ride, please.

Bonus I: Three ways to improve walkability without touching the street. (Streets.mn)

Bonus II: A Dinkytown lifer closes shop (Minnesota Daily)

Bonus III: Women’s advocates say pregnant women are increasingly the target for criminal charges and forced medical interventions, the BBC Magazine reports.

It focuses on laws in 38 states to protect foetal rights.


Estimates suggest that Minnesota misses out on $400 million each year by failing to collect sales taxes on purchases made online, through catalogues or by other means. State officials are considering whether and how to collect some of that money. Today’s Question: Would having to pay sales tax for online purchases change your shopping habits?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Last week Gov. Dayton unveiled his budget proposal. The Minnesota Senate leaders joined the Daily Circuit last week to respond. Today the House leaders will share their response to the budget proposal and update us on other matters pending in the Legislature.

Second hour: Television: the thinking person’s entertainment.

Third hour: Musician Peter Asher.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, speaking recently at the National Press Club about immigration and guns.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The violence in Egypt. Plus: Paul Krugman of the New York Times.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The Minnesota DNR has launched what agency officials say is the largest moose study ever conducted in the state. The DNR will put tracking collars on 100 moose to try and solve a mystery. They want to figure out why adult moose are dying prematurely. MPR’s Tom Robertson will have the story.

Haiti is plagued by poverty and natural disasters. But it was once known for Club Med and vacations. The Caribbean country wants to stoke its recovery by reclaiming its status as a magnet for international tourism. NPR reports.