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DNR reverses course on Chinook salmon stocking, proposes increase

Peter Payette

State biologists want to stock Lake Michigan with more Chinook salmon. A new proposal from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would increase stocking by 67 percent over the next two years.

Last year, the DNR cut the stocking numbers. But Jay Wesley, the DNR's Lake Michigan Basin Coordinator,  says that plan got pushback from the public.

“In Michigan last year, we only stocked 330,000 Chinook. And they thought that was just too low.”

Wesley says salmon are among the most popular species for Lake Michigan anglers.

“Given the choice out in the lake, if people could have Chinook salmon, coho and steelhead versus lake trout, they tend to prefer the Chinook, coho and steelhead,” he says.

The new two-year DNR proposal would raise stocking levels for Chinook salmon to just over 500,000 fish per year. That’s a fraction of the 7,000,000 stocked in 1999. The DNR has stocked fewer fish in recent years because of the decline of alewives, the Chinook salmons’ primary food source.

The plan would also cut the number of stocked brown trout by about 30 percent, and lake trout by 11 percent. Steelhead stocking would remain at the same level.